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Alcoholcode

Content (EN) ( English version )

General

  • 1. Quantity

    Since the irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause problems, restraint shall be exercised in all advertising messages for such beverages. Advertisements of alcoholic beverages shall not show, suggest, nor stimulate any excessive or otherwise irresponsible consumption.

    Explanation of Article 1
    Excessive or otherwise irresponsible consumption is in any case (this list is not exhaustive):

    • the visible drinking of a full glass at one draught
    • showing a glass which is at least twice as big as the standard glass (A standard glass of beer contains 250 ml, of wine 100 ml and of liquor 35 ml) for the category of that respective alcoholic beverage
    • showing a disproportionate packaging, for example a bucket or similar object, where consumption by several people is shown, suggested or stimulated (for example by means of straws). Showing a pitcher is exclusively permitted in the context that the pitcher is poured into several glasses. Showing large packages such as a crate of beer or a large (magnum) bottle of wine/champagne is in principle permitted, unless it is obvious that the contents of these packages will only be consumed by one person.  

    Honors at sports events, for example, where a magnum bottle of champagne, wine or beer is used, are permitted. However, in this setting it should be abundantly clear that these magnums are intended to be used at the moment of celebration of a sports achievement and are aimed at the spectator and not at the consumption of the athlete. It is not permitted to use a disproportionate glass of beer, wine or spirits during a ceremony, because this could suggest that the athlete in question will/may drink it.

    A so-called ‘under-the-cap action’ is not permitted, unless the following conditions are met:

    1. Consumers cannot only take part by opening a non-reclosable packaging (bottles with crown caps, tabs of cans), but also by means of an alternative way and this is communicated clearly (such as visiting a web site, etc.)

    2. The alternative way to take part mentioned in paragraph 1 is in reasonable relation to taking part by means of purchasing and opening alcoholic beverages with non-reclosable packagings.

    Guidelines to Article 1 – Quantity

    The irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause problems. Therefore it is important that the advertising message shows responsible alcohol consumption and that people are not encouraged to drink excessively. Use restraint with the quantity of alcohol you show and take into account the total number of drinks per person. The alcoholic beverage should be consumed quickly. Avoid the image of one person drinking several alcoholic drinks.

    A crate with bottles is sometimes not excessive…

    In the island commercial of Bacardi a (large) quantity of limes is cut in slices and a crate of bottles of Bacardi rum is carried in. By showing a large amount of people who are visiting the party on the island, there is no (suggestion of) excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

    … but sometimes one six pack is

    In Bavaria’s commercial with Piet Paulusma we see that meteorologist Piet Paulusma comes to the conclusion that the weather will be very nice the next day. Therefore he decides to buy an extra six pack of Bavaria. The RCC (Advertising Code Commission) judged that the commercial was not sufficiently reserved and therefore in conflict with the Advertising Code for Alcoholic beverages (RvA).

  • 2. Abstinence

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not portray abstinence of alcohol consumption or moderate alcohol consumption negatively, nor may the advertising of alcoholic beverages be contrasted favourably against any non-alcoholic beverage.

    Guidelines to Article 2 – Abstinence

    Abstinence or moderate alcohol consumption may not be portrayed negatively. People may not be challenged to take up drinking if they do not choose to do so themselves.

    Under certain conditions it is permitted to offer a passer-by beer

    In the commercial ‘Automatiek’ two Belgians are making an effort to promote Palm beer in the Netherlands. Henk and Bert stop a passer-by who just took a minced-meat hot dog from an automat. They put him at a table on the street where an extensive lunch is served, together with a glass of Palm beer. Then a voice over says: ‘Become a Burgundian too. Palm, pure authentic beer’. The RCC (Dutch Advertising Code Committee) judged that because of the humouristically intended exaggeration, there was no question of a negative portrayal of the abstinence of alcohol consumption.

  • 3. Alcoholic nature

    Paragraph 1

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not arouse any confusion concerning the alcoholic nature and the alcohol percentage of the alcoholic beverage.

    Paragraph 2

    Advertising messages for an alcoholic beverage, including the brand name, generic name and the packaging, may not arouse the impression that the beverage in question is a soft drink, lemonade or other type of non-alcoholic beverage.

    Guidelines to Article 3 – Alcoholic nature

    When drinks such as fruit juices have been combined with alcoholic beverages, then it should be made sufficiently clear that the drink is an alcoholic beverage. Do not use any words such as ‘fruit drink’, ‘fruit juice’, or ‘soft drink’, so the impression cannot arise that the beverage in question is a non-alcoholic drink.

    2Fruity really is too fruity

    In advertising messages of 2Fruity the fact that the drink also contained fruit juice was emphatically stressed. For example, in different messages they said among other: “2fruity, full of juicy details”, “2fruity is a fresh and fruity drink’. Despite the fact that “Alcoholic fruit drink” was mentioned on the bottle, the RCC believed that it was not sufficiently clear that it concerned an alcoholic beverage here.

  • 4. Alcoholic content

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not suggest that the alcoholic content is in itself a positive property. Nor may it be implied that risks are eliminated the lower the alcoholic percentage.

    Guidelines to Article 4 – Alcohol percentage

    The alcohol percentage has to be actually mentioned on the packaging, but it may never be presented as a primary advantage of the brand. This applies to both a relatively high and low alcohol percentage.

    Too much emphasis on a high percentage of alcohol

    The packaging among other said: “You feel that you are drinking beer. Imported Atlas super strong beer. Super strong. 12%.” The RCC judged that the packaging too much emphasized the height of the alcohol percentage.

    Mentioning a low percentage of alcohol as a primary advantage is not allowed either

    The printed advertising message for Lindemans Early Harvest Crisp Dry wine was in conflict with Article 4 of the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages (RvA), because the following was communicated in this message: ‘Light wine. Many light wines contain around 12% of alcohol, but Early Harvest Crisp Dry of Lindemans only contains 9 percent. And less alcohol means less calories!’.

  • 5. Good taste and decency

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not be at variance with good taste, decency, or detract from human dignity and integrity.

    Guidelines to Article 5 – Good taste and decency

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not unnecessarily hurt people. Avoid every insult or offence. Discrimination on the basis of race, sexual inclination, religion and suchlike is absolutely forbidden.

    Sometimes you can go too far

    An advertisement of Bavaria in Voetbal International said among other: “Your balls are in good hands with us”. The RCC is normally very reserved with its judgments with regard to Article 5, but in this case it still chose to determine that this advertisement was in conflict with the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages (RvA). Reasons: the lack of subtlety, hinting at ‘a date’ with some of the ladies shown and offering ‘care’ by the ladies from the advertisement.

Claims

  • 6. Claims

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not:

    Paragraph 1

    Refer to the disinhibiting effects of alcoholic beverages, such as the reduction or elimination of feelings of anxiety and inner or social conflicts.

    Paragraph 2

    Refer to the possible health benefits of drinking alcoholic beverages. However it is permitted to only make a factual statement or to make a factual comparison with regard to any relevant ingredients and/or nutrients and/or the number of kcal compared to other (alcoholic) drinks or other food products, if the requirements of comparative advertisement are complied with.

    Paragraph 3

    Suggest that the consumption of alcoholic beverages improves physical or mental performance.

    Paragraph 4

    Suggest that the consumption of alcoholic beverages positively influences sports performance.

    Guidelines to Article 6 – Claims

    In advertising messages for alcoholic beverages no claims or suggestions may be made about the positive health effects of alcohol. However, one is allowed to refer to taste perception. Do not use any words such as ‘energizing’ and ‘energy’ either, as this gives the impression that consumption of the product makes a person more energetic. The RCC has judged in several cases that these words suggest that it improves physical and mental performance.

    Furthermore, the EU Labeling Requirements from the VIC Regulation (VIC 1169/2011) must always be complied with, as well as the requirements regarding nutrition and health claims from the Claims Regulations (Claims VO 1924/2006).

    Refreshing versus it refreshes

    In a commercial Strongbow Gold is described as a ‘highly refreshing cider’. This judgment from the RCC made it clear that ‘fresh’ and ‘refreshing’ may be used, because in this commercial ‘refreshing’ only refers to the taste perception. Another judgment from the RCC already made it clear that the term ‘it refreshes’ may not be used, because here there is question of the suggestion of improved mental or physical performance.

  • 7. Professional performance

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not suggest that the consumption of alcoholic beverages enhances professional performance.

    Explanation of Article 7

    It is not allowed to show people drinking alcoholic beverages in the workplace or if there is a direct link with the workplace. If the setting has to be that of a work environment, it should be clear that it is the end of the working day. However, an indirect link is allowed, for example if one drinks an alcoholic beverage at the end of the working day in another room of the work environment – in a canteen or recreation space.

    Guidelines to Article 7 – Professional performance

    Alcohol and work is not a good combination.

    Bavaria’s Klokklok Commercial

    In this commercial we see an interpreter at the end of his job opening a beer in another room. He is still carrying his microphone, but there is no physical contact anymore with the people who are still at work. So this is all just allowed.

  • 8. Social and/or sexual success

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not arouse the impression that there is a causal connection between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and being socially and sexually successful. The impression that this causal connection exists can also arise by means of the suggestion that alcohol is consumed without really portraying the alcohol (consumption).

    More specifically the messages as described in the Explanation of Article 8 are not permitted (this list is not exhaustive).

    Explanation of Article 8

    Social success

    • messages in which one or several people are portrayed in a ‘before’ versus ‘after’ situation, where in the ‘before’ situation one or several people evidently fail in social and/or interpersonal skills and after the consumption of an alcoholic beverage in the ‘after’ situation dispose of social and/or interpersonal skills;
    • messages in which someone gets a job or a promotion at his/her work as a result of alcohol (consumption);
    • messages in which someone evidently obtains more social status as a direct result of alcohol (consumption).

    Sexual success

    • messages in which a situation in a bar or club or at a party is shown in which other people are only willing to dance with the central figure in the message after he/she has drunk an alcoholic beverage (and who evidently did not want to do this before that time);
    • messages in which people are portrayed in a ‘before’ versus ‘after’ situation in which the successful picking up of someone in a catering facility or getting into a sexual relationship is portrayed, as a direct result of alcohol (consumption);
    • messages in which a person takes off his/her clothes, takes up a more provocative position or evidently makes him-/herself sexually available with regard to either another person in the message, or the viewer, where it is abundantly clear that this is the result of alcohol (consumption);
    • messages in which a man completely takes off his clothes or has someone else take them off completely or is completely naked (even if this is not evidently the result of alcohol (consumption));
    • messages in which a woman takes off her clothes or has someone else take off her clothes until she is topless or completely naked, or messages in which she is topless or naked (even if this is not evidently the result of alcohol (consumption)).

    NB: showing one or several people who are (already) sexually or socially successful is in itself not in conflict with Article 8 of the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages (RvA).

    Guidelines to Article 8 – Social and sexual success

    ‘Sex sells’ is a widely known piece of marketing wisdom. In alcohol advertisements it is also possible to portray beautiful people. But the industry has also imposed some limits on itself here. Here it is central that no causal connection may be shown between drinking alcoholic beverages and social and/or sexual success. Especially avoid any ‘before / after’ situations, in which drinking alcoholic beverages is visible or the suggestion that this is done is strongly present. The reason for this is that alcoholic beverages may not be presented as some kind of ‘miracle drug’ which leads to whichever type of success. Also make sure that you do not go too far in using any sexually tinted images. After all, that what is still cultured to one person, can be offending to another person.

    Examples

    A well-known foreign example of a violation of this article, is that of a TV commercial of Carling from 2002. This commercial shows a man who in an increasingly excited condition licks up a track of beer that has been made by his wife by pouring out a can of beer through the entire house. The house is becoming sparkling clean and the man is getting more and more excited, especially when they finally reach the bedroom. There they are out of beer and as a result of this, the excitement of the man disappears as well.

    Flirting is allowed, especially when people are not drinking …

    In the Hij/Zij (He/She) commercial of Wieckse Witte and Rosé you see a man and woman flirting with each other in an outdoor café with a glass of Wieckse Witte and Rosé in front of them on the table. At the end of the commercial they toast together with their glasses in their hands. Apart from the fact whether flirting is or is not sexual success, they are not drinking, so it is unrealistic to see a causal connection between the consumption of an alcoholic beverage and sexual success.

    … but there are limits: Cult Shaker of R&B Beverage

    A printed advertising message shows two ladies with bare upper bodies who are at the point of kissing each other and some bottles of Cult Shaker. The RCC judged that the impression is aroused that there is a causal connection between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and sexual success.

Vulnerable groups/minors

  • 9. Pregnant women

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages shall not be aimed specifically at pregnant women.

  • 10. Minors

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages shall not be aimed specifically at minors. More specifically the messages as described in the explanation of Article 10 are not permitted.

    Explanation of Article 10

    Forbidden advertising messages within the scope of Article 10 of the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages (RvA) are particularly (this list is not exhaustive):

    • messages in which teenage idols are used;
    • messages/promotions in which promotional items are used (such as little dolls, cuddly toys, toy cars, games, stickers, buttons, soccer cards, beach toys or school-related articles) as far as these are specifically aimed at minors;
    • music that can be downloaded for free, specifically aimed at teenagers;
    • messages in which music is used that is specifically aimed at teenagers;
    • messages in which the specific language of young people is used;
    • messages that make use of situations that refer to teenage behaviour: puberty, adolescent infatuation, school parties, examinations;
    • messages in which Sinterklaas or Santa Claus is used as far as these are specifically aimed at minors;
    • messages that make use of any style that at that moment is fashionable amongst minors;
    • messages using names and/or images of zoos or amusement parks;
    • activations in which – directly linked to the sale of alcoholic beverages – entrance tickets or other items are given away from zoos or amusement parks;
    • offering premiums to minors during catering promotions;
    • replicating sports stadiums by means of alcoholic beverage packagings in the context of alcohol advertising;
    • in the context of alcohol advertising, building an arch of honour by means of packagings of alcoholic beverages at the entrance of a sales point for alcoholic beverages, under which every visitor who enters this sales point must pass;
    • in the context of alcohol advertising, using promotional displays with flashing illuminated elements, except insofar as these have a function in the context of providing information to consumers in the context of consumers making a purchasing decision;
    • using interactive (rolling) promotional displays in the context of alcohol advertising.
  • 11. Portrayed people

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not show any persons who are:

    • younger than 18 years old or
    • clearly look younger than 18 years old.

    Advertising messages in which one makes use of staged situations with scripts and models that are hired by or by order of the advertiser, may not show any persons who are:

    • younger than 25 years old or
    • clearly look younger than 25 years old.

    The use of a (well-known) person, such as influencers, artists, musicians etc. on the initiative and with financial compensation from the advertiser in advertising messages, even if this happens via platforms over which the advertiser has no (editorial) control, other than activations in the context of corporate social responsibility, is not permitted if this person:

    • is younger than 25 years old or
    • clearly looks younger than 25 years old.

    Explanation of Article 11

    Facebook and other (social network) sites with photos in which persons are portrayed who have not been hired by the advertiser and where the content of the site is managed by or on behalf of the advertiser and where the advertiser has editorial control, may not show any persons who are younger than or clearly look younger than 18 years old.

    Images of events sponsored by brands of alcoholic beverages, where people under the age of 18 are shown in an active way (for example at football matches and concerts), may be shown provided that these underage influencers, musicians and/or artists are not actively deployed in the context of the promotion of alcoholic drinks.

  • 12. Maturity

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not suggest that the consumption of alcoholic beverage is a sign of maturity and that abstinence from alcohol consumption is a sign of immaturity.

Riskful situations

  • 13. Risky situations

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not show situations that incite risky, violent or aggressive behaviour or that encourage this behaviour.

    Explanation of Article 13

    Messages may, to a certain extent, show risky behaviour, provided that this risk is reasonably limited and the advertising message does not incite to imitate this risky behaviour.

    Nothing in the advertising message (words, actions, images) may associate drinking with dangerous behaviour or may encourage such behaviour.

    Guidelines to Article 13 – Risky behaviour

    Nothing in the advertising message (words, actions, images) may associate drinking with dangerous behaviour or may encourage such behaviour.

    One can think of the following forms of risky behaviour (this list is not exhaustive):

    • Paragliding
    • Parasailing
    • Do parachuting
    • Mountain or rock climbing
    • Fencing
    • Gliding
    • Abseiling
    • Whitewater kayaking
    • Bungee jumping
    • Car racing
    • Motorcycle racing
  • 14. Drugs

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not show any acceptation of, association with, or reference to illegal drugs.

    Guidelines to Article 14 – Drugs

    Any association with illegal drugs and alcohol must be avoided. Alcohol, coffee and tobacco are legal substances. By illegal drugs we mean drugs such as described in the Opium act. Examples are: heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, LSD, XTC, marihuana, cannabis and GHB.

    Image of a hemp leave is not permitted

    On the bottle of the liquorette ‘Squeeze Hennep’ a hemp leave was portrayed. This is no longer allowed.

  • 15. Events: public order

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages in connection with events is not permitted, if it may reasonably be suspected that this will encourage disruption of the public order and/or disruption of the event concerned.

  • 16. Events: risk of physical injury

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages in connection with events is not permitted, if it may reasonably be expected that this may create the risk of physical injury for participants and/or spectators.

    Guidelines to Article 16 – Events: risk of physical injury

    This refers to the sponsoring of events that apart from the element of competition and/or sports also have aggressive features and/or where bodily harm can be inflicted on participants in the event (such as boxing).

  • 17. Traffic

    Paragraph 1

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not establish a connection between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and active participation in traffic using a vehicle of any kind.

    Paragraph 2

    If a recommendation of alcoholic beverages is shown on a vehicle, then the vehicle shall also bear a clearly legible warning against active participation in traffic after the use of alcohol. Exceptions are vehicles used for the transportation of alcoholic beverages, such as trucks, vehicles for technical services of the hospitality and catering industry.

    Guidelines to Article 17 – Traffic

    Alcohol and traffic are not a good combination in advertising messages for alcoholic beverages either. Here it is important that drinking alcoholic beverages or the suggestion that this occurs, is not associated with active participation in traffic. This refers to all means of transport, including bicycles, boats and hot air balloons. When a person is shown who is driving a vehicle before he/she goes to a bar or arrives at a party, it is essential to show that this person will not be driving again, for example by showing that the keys are being handed to a non-drinker.

Specific forms

  • 18. Sport and event sponsorship

    paragraph 1

    The linkage of a brand name of an alcoholic beverage to an event is permitted.

    paragraph 2

    It is permitted to show the sponsorship on physical advertising materials in the framework of events, provided that the rules of Articles 10, 15, 16, 20 and 29 are complied with.

    paragraph 3

    It is permitted to advertise through physical advertising materials in the framework of events, provided that articles 10, 15, 16, 20 and 29 are complied with.

    paragraph 4

    With regard to the content of the advertising messages that are used in paragraphs 1 up to 3, it applies that in case of sports and events sponsorship all rules of this Code are applicable.

    Explanations to Article 18:

    Events where, in addition to adults, people under the age of 18 are also active (such as football matches and concerts) may in principle be sponsored, as long as these minors, such as influencers, musicians and artists, are not actively used in the context of promoting alcoholic beverages.

    Guidelines to Article 18 – Sports and event sponsorship

    The linkage of a brand name of an alcoholic beverage to an event is permitted. All rules of the Code also apply to sports and events sponsorship. It is permitted to show the sponsorship through physical advertising materials, provided that articles 10, 15, 16, 20 and 29 are complied with. In the context of Article 20 it is necessary to find out through or together with the organisation who exactly will be visiting the event and what percentage of this is younger than 18 years old. If you cannot determine this for certain and if there are any signals that more than 25% of the visitors is younger than 18, than it would be wise not to sponsor this event. Also remember Article 29, because a brand name of an alcoholic beverage may not be portrayed on clothing, attributes and means of transport that are used by a sportsman or sports team for active sports.

  • 19. Free supply

    Paragraph 1

    Except in the case of tasting sessions in liquor stores or sampling during catering promotions, advertising in which alcoholic beverages are offered free of charge to private individuals by a member of the industry or with the active co-operation of a member of the industry is not permitted.

    Paragraph 2

    The value of a premium offered may not be more than half of the total value of the purchased product including the purchased premium.

    Explanation of Article 19

    It is not allowed to use the word ‘free’ or synonyms thereof (such as ‘present’ or ‘treat’) in communications.

    It also holds for grocery packages and rewards in competitions and/or promotions that no alcoholic beverages may be given away, even though the word ‘free’ or a synonym thereof is not used in the message.

    Guidelines to Article 19 – Free supply

    Giving away alcoholic beverages for free in whichever form is not permitted. This does not suit responsible alcohol marketing. Presenting people with festival tickets is permitted, provided that the winners will not receive any ‘free’ alcoholic beverages during the festival. So do not use ‘all-inclusive’ or ‘including drinks’ in your communications.

    According to Article 2a of the Alcohol Law, as from July 1st 2021 the maximum discount permitted on alcoholic beverages is 25% of the retail price. Price promotions on alcoholic beverages of more than 25% are no longer permitted for ‘use elsewhere than on the spot’. For example, price promotions such as ‘get two, pay for one’ are no longer permitted for supermarkets and liquor stores. The maximum discount of 25% also applies when giving extra contents of a product or a free product such as a glass or opener.

    All-inclusive party? Free drinks?!

    Winners could win an all-inclusive Ladies Party at their home. According to the RCC there is question here of offering alcoholic beverages for free, because this party is completely taken care of by Canei. Even though it is not specifically communicated that the reward also includes Canei. Only by the linkage of the brand name to the alcoholic beverage Canei, it is sufficiently plausible that alcoholic beverages of this brand will also be provided.

Media

  • 20. The reach of events

    No advertising of alcoholic beverages in any form may reach a public that consists of more than twenty-five percent (25%) of minors. The reach is determined over a representative measuring period that is determined on the basis of the concrete circumstances of the case (among other its location, medium, impact, proportionality) and by means of reach figures that are as objective as possible.

    The standard for determining the reach of advertising messages is the generally accepted survey for this purpose in the market and, in case not available, any other valid and representative evidence.

    In case of events, the attendance figures are the standard for determining the reach of advertising messages. The burden of proof regarding the reach of advertising messages falls on the advertiser, who has to base his figures on generally accepted viewer or listener ratings in the market or any other valid and representative evidence. As far as web sites and their subpages are concerned, one should make a reasonable case for using user profiles.

    Article 20 is not applicable to advertising messages that are part of the regular street scene and to incidental situations on which the advertiser has no influence. Regular street scene means all those situations that you may reasonably expect in the street scene which are also in accordance with this Code, such as light boxes with the brand name and/or logo of the brands that are on draft or served in the front of cafes and/or restaurants and abri’s. Incidental situations are situations with a single character, like the entry of Sinterklaas/Santa Claus in a part of the town or a village. Another example is a situation where a promotion team moves from one catering establishment to another without actively advertising and happens to encounter a group of minors.

    Explanation of Article 20

    More particularly, messages that are part of the regular street scene are considered to be (not exhaustive) messages where the brand name and/or logo is shown beer mats, tap button, sunshades, flags, clothes of the barkeeper and banners that you may reasonably expect at a distribution point or mobile tap during events or fairs for the identification of the product and brand.

    Guidelines to Article 20 – The reach of events

    Make sure that with your advertising messages you will never reach an audience which consists for more than 25% of minors. This also applies to locations of catering industry promotions, events, internet sites and their subpages. If you cannot determine this with certainty and if there are any signals that more than 25% of the visitors is younger than 18 years old, then do not do it. The burden of proof always falls on the advertiser. (You may ask STIVA for advice on possibilities for determining reach figures).

    Sometimes sponsorship of an event is not permitted …

    For some years Grolsch has been sponsor of The Night of Hengelo. From attendance figures of Sport Monitor complainant has concluded that more than 25% of the visitors were minors. Grolsch disputed the attendance figures of Sport Monitor, but has not been able to prove that a public has been reached with this event which consists for less than 25% of minors.

    … but if you are able to demonstrate that visitors are predominantly old enough, it is permitted

    This judgment of the RCC shows the importance of good documentation. This complaint was rejected because Heineken was well able to document how the promotional team was briefed beforehand and was able to prove with figures of another celebration that less than 25% of the public consisted of minors.

  • 21. The reach of radio and TV

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not be broadcast on radio and television immediately before, during, or directly after programs that, according to viewer or listener rating figures generally accepted in the market, are listened to or viewed by more than twenty-five percent (25%) minors.

  • 22. Youth Channels

    paragraph 1

    Broadcasting stations for youngsters may not advertise for alcoholic beverages.

    paragraph 2

    Magazines that are specifically aimed at minors may not advertise for alcoholic beverages.

    paragraph 3

    Internet sites that are specifically aimed at minors may not advertise for alcoholic beverages.

    Annually, STIVA (Dutch Foundation for the Responsible consumption of Alcohol) asks an independent agency to determine which television and radio stations are regarded as youth broadcasting stations and issues a press release on this. Events organized by these channels are also prohibited from advertising alcoholic beverages.

  • 23. Social media

    Paragraph 1 – Additional effect

    In addition to that which has been determined in the Dutch Advertising Code, the special   Advertising code for Social Media & Influencer Marketing (RSM) and in the Media law (Dutch: Mediawet), the rules of this Article apply for active internet marketing.

    Paragraph 2 – Age mentioning in screen advertising through the internet

    In advertising messages from the advertiser which

    i) consist in whole or partly of (any moving) images and

    ii) which are intended for distribution through the internet, whether or not by the advertiser,

    the image should, in a clearly visible and readable way, mention the logo ‘NIX18’ such as stated in Article 32, paragraph 2. An exception to this, for influencers, with regard to its display, is stated in Article 32, paragraph 5.

    Paragraph 3 – Messages on an internet platform under control of the advertiser & influencer marketing

    a)         Advertising messages posted on an internet platform over which the advertiser has some degree of control and/or that are distributed by a third person with whom the advertiser has a relevant relationship in the sense if the Advertising code Social Media & Influencer Marketing (RSM), should comply with the Dutch Advertising Code and the RSM, irrespective of who posts the advertising message. When a complaint is acknowledged, the Advertising Code Committee and, on appeal, the Board of Appeal can designate the party to which

    non-compliance with this Code is attributable.

    b)         The advertiser and distributor are both responsible for compliance with the RSM, whereby the advertiser has an active best-effort obligation. In addition, the advertiser has the duty of care stated in Article 6 of the RSM.

    c)        For advertising placed on an internet platform over which the advertiser has some degree of control and/or which is distributed by a third person with whom the advertiser has a relevant relationship in the sense of the Advertising code Social Media & Influencer Marketing (RSM), one should use an 18+ age filter when available on the designated platform. This requirement applies to both organic content and to advertisements. Platforms with an age filter are at least YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly called Twitter).

    d)         If third-party content (e.g. comments, likes, etc) is placed on the aforementioned internet platform, where no age filter is available, then:

    i)  the advertiser – in addition to the obligations under paragraph 3 sub a – should also have ensured that the person who wishes to post the comments is at least 18 years old, or

    ii) this person must have declared that he or she is at least 18 years old.

    e )        In case a declaration such as mentioned under paragraph 3d under ii) and/or in case of any reasonable doubt whether the person is at least 18 years old, the advertiser shall see to it that this person cannot post any reactions.

    In case there is no selection or admission control possible for a certain internet platform, the advertiser should mention on a clearly visible and easily readable spot that the content of and posting on that internet platform is exclusively intended for persons of 18 years and older.

    Paragraph 4 – Messages distributed by the advertiser

    In case of active internet marketing, where the receiving party can be selected such as with, but not limited to, advertising messages through email or advertising on the basis of digital profiles that are linked to a cookie, the following should be adhered to:

    a minimum age of 18 years must be used as effective selection criterion, or another suchlike selection criterion from which this minimum age follows.

    Paragraph 5 – responding to social media accounts of third parties

    Before making advertising comprised of placing or responding to a communication on a social media account other than that of the advertiser, the advertiser must have ascertained that the owner of that social media account is at least 18 years old. If this has not proven to be the case or if it is impossible to check his or her age, placing a comment or message by the advertiser is prohibited.

    Paragraph 6– Distributors (including influencers)

    Advertising that consists of the distribution of advertisements for alcoholic beverages by a natural or legal person (Distributor) who has a relevant relationship with an advertiser in the context of distributing that advertisement must comply with all articles of the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages.

    Distributors who have a relevant relationship with an advertiser should be at least 25 years old and should also look 25 years old.

    Advertising made through distributors must include the hashtag #Ad, #advertisement or other statement in accordance with the Explanation of Article 3 of the RSM.  

    Paragraph 7 – TikTok

    It is not permitted to advertise alcoholic beverages on the TikTok platform. The advertiser is also not permitted to distribute advertising or have advertisements distributed for alcoholic beverages on TikTok by a Distributor who has a relevant relationship with the advertiser (see Article 23, paragraph 6, with the obligation to comply with, among other, the RvA and thus the prohibition of advertising aimed at minors).

    Paragraph 8 – opt out option

    Advertisers must cooperate with social media platforms’ ability to work with an ‘opt-out’ option. This opt-out option means that adults, who, for whatever reason, do not want to receive alcohol advertising through their social media accounts, can indicate this and will therefore no longer receive content from advertisers.

    Explanation of Article 23 Social media

    The “liking” by the advertiser on any post, status, photograph or other communication by third parties or “reposting” is prohibited, unless the advertiser can demonstrate that the owner of the relevant social media account is at least 18 years old. This is for example the case if it concerns an official account of a company or a well-known natural person. If a natural person is involved who is not well-known, the advertiser must, prior to posting the message or comment, have made it reasonably plausible that it concerns a person who is 18 years or older via the information on his/her profile page.

    Please note: the rules based on legislation and regulations within the context of privacy and the protection of personal data (as currently laid down in the Personal Data Protection Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Distribution of Advertising by e-mail Code), apply as well, including the consent requirement, drawing attention to and providing the option of unsubscribing, and the information obligations, to the extent applicable.

    Explanation of paragraph 7:
    As soon as TikTok will have an age filter that functions well by general standards, the prohibition on advertising on TikTok under Article 23, paragraph 7, will lapse.

    Guidelines to Article 23 – Social media

    All rules of the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages (RvA) and the rules from the Advertising code Social Media & Influencer Marketing (RSM) apply to advertising messages in the form of internet marketing, and also to the content of third parties.

    For advertising messages in the form of active internet marketing, the extra requirements of paragraph 2 through 5 are applicable.

    Several platforms use different methods to ensure that content does not end up with people under 18. Make sure that you are aware of the possibilities per platform and apply them. If an age filter is available on a certain internet platform, then it must also be used as stated in Article 23, paragraph 3c. If a platform introduces a filter, this filter must be applied as soon as possible.

    For example, Facebook, Instagram (owned by Meta), Snapchat and Youtube (Google) have signed a pledge that has ensured that since 2020, content from alcohol brands does not reach minors through their platforms. Make sure that you are and remain aware of this in the right way, and also in case of any future technical developments. Because of this, the compliance with paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 has become a lot easier for you.

    Other platforms such as X already offer the possibility to work with an age check. Make sure to apply this, at least with new followers.

    Other social media platforms

    If the social platform does not offer the possibility yet to exclude persons younger than 18 years old by means of an age-check or similar age check or age filter, it is sufficient to mention in the bio of the platform, in a clearly visible and readable way, that the content is only intended for persons of 18 years and older. This does not apply to the TikTok platform. It is categorically not allowed to advertise alcohol on TikTok (see paragraphs 6 and 7). These are TikTok’s own rules, which also have to do with the fact that TikTok cannot (properly) filter for 18+ profiles and has a user population that is generally still partially underage.

  • 24. Websites

    Paragraph 1
    Websites that function as a platform where advertising is used predominantly and for which the brand name or trade name of the alcoholic beverage is part of the domain name, shall ask their visitors at their homepage or preceding to the first page of the website that is visited, by means of an age check, whether they have reached the age of 18 years. The age check should at least consist of the year of birth of the visitor. If the entered year of birth does not provide a definitive answer as to whether the person who entered it is 17 or 18 years old, the day and month of birth must also be entered.

    It is also permitted to perform age verification by making visitors log in through a social media account or other digital platform. The condition is that these platforms must use an adequate form of registration of the date of birth.

    Paragraph 2
    For websites that function as a sales platform where alcoholic beverages are sold predominantly, a statement must be included at a location on the website to be determined by the advertiser, that the content of the website is not intended for young people, younger than 18, or other words to this effect. This statement must be placed in a logical/relevant location on the website and must be clearly readable.

    Paragraph 3
    The above-mentioned rules do not apply to websites that function as a sales platform for a wide range of food products and that also sell alcoholic beverages.

    Explanation of article 24

    The statement may be in the form of a text or in the form of a pictogram that conveys the message clearly enough. It is also permitted to create the statement in the form of a pop-up or (temporary) banner. In that case, this pop-up or banner must be visible for at least 5 seconds. When assessing complaints about whether or not it is stated that the content is not intended for young people, that is younger than 18 years old, the efforts that the advertiser makes (or has made) to tailor its business operations to the scope of this notification will be taken into account.

Divers

  • 25. Catering industry promotions

    paragraph 1 The recommendation of alcoholic beverages by catering promotion teams may not be aimed at minors. The recommendation of alcoholic beverages by catering promotion teams is also not permitted in places where over more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the audience consists of minors at that point in time.

    paragraph 2 During catering industry promotions it is not permitted to offer alcoholic beverages free of charge, with the exception of sampling.

    paragraph 3 During catering industry promotions it is not permitted to sell alcoholic beverages at less than half of the normal retail price. In addition, no more than one drink per customer may be offered at a discount per promotion.

    paragraph 4 During catering industry promotions it is permitted to organize a sampling.

    paragraph 5 Catering industry promotions shall be carried out by persons of 18 years or older.

    Explanation of Article 25
    if a catering industry promotion consists of a sampling, then:

    • this sampling may exclusively be held in a catering establishment that has a liquor and catering license or at events which are exempt from the liquor license within the scope of Article 35 of the Drinks and Catering Act. It is not permitted to sample strong alcoholic beverages at events where there is only an exemption in the context of Article 35 of the Alcohol Act. However, sampling is permitted at events with a regular Liquor and Catering Permit.
    • only portion sizes of 2cl for spirits, 5cl for wine and 7,5cl for beer, cider and hard seltzer are used. It is permitted to supplement these quantities with non-alcoholic drinks, for example in the form of a post mix;
    • a maximum of 1 unit of one brand of alcoholic beverage may be tasted per person per sampling. This also applies when multiple variants of a brand are promoted;
    • all members of the promotion team, dressed in the look & feel of the alcohol brand if desired, should be at least 18 years old.

  • 26. Tasting in a liquor store

    Paragraph 1

    The tasting of alcoholic beverages in a liquor store is permitted in accordance with Article 25e of the Alcohol Act. In addition to the legal conditions, the conditions mentioned below in paragraphs 2 and 3 are applicable.

    Paragraph 2

    Promotional teams are explicitly not permitted to have consumers taste alcoholic beverages in a liquor store.

    Paragraph 3

    Promotional teams, if desired dressed in the look & feel of the alcohol brand, may – if the relevant liquor store grants permission for this – be present in a liquor store to provide product information and to bring the tasting under the attention. These promotions shall be carried out by persons of 18 years or older.

    Guidelines to Article 26

    Tasting in a liquor store is permitted and promotional teams possibly have a role in this. It is important to at least know that the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act says that the tasting should take place on request of the customer, that only employees of the liquor store are allowed to pour something for the customer and, of course, that the minimum age of the people who want to taste something should be 18 years.

  • 27. Outdoor advertising and advertising in cinemas

    paragraph 1

    Advertising for alcoholic beverages is not permitted on billboards, swanks, bus shelters and illuminated street advertising columns that are placed in view of alcohol rehabilitation centres or primary schools, secondary schools, centres for intermediate vocational education and other educational institutions that are attended primarily by minors, neither when these are placed along motorways or other roads outside built-up areas.

    paragraph 2

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not be shown in cinemas before children’s films, family films dubbed in Dutch and before children’s matinee films and school performances. As to other films, advertisements for alcoholic beverages may only be shown if no more than 25% of the audience consists of minors.

  • 28. Exhibitions and Guided tours

    Visiting an exhibition or taking a guided tour in a brewery, distillery or winegrowing company is not permitted to persons under the age of 18, except if:

    • they are accompanied by an adult during the visit;
    • the exhibition or guided tour is predominantly aimed at the production process and/or workmanship and/or the connectedness with a city or region and focuses less on the recommendation of a certain brand of alcoholic beverage;
    • the on-the-spot consumption of alcoholic beverages should always take place in a space which is physically separated from the exhibition space or from spaces that are part of the guided tour, with the exception of tasting intermediary and/or end products of the brewing/distillation/fermentation process in small quantities and by way of explanation. All applicable laws and regulations, among which in particular those with regard to the age limits for providing alcoholic beverages, shall be complied with.
  • 29. Sports

    Paragraph 1

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not be displayed on an individual sportsman or sports team.

    Paragraph 2

    Advertising messages for alcoholic beverages may not be displayed on vehicles and/or attributes that are used by the sportsman or sports team in their active practice of sports.

    Paragraph 3

    Athletes who practice their sports professionally shall not be hired by or on behalf of an advertiser for radio, cinema and television commercials, neither for printed messages or social media posts with or without images and/or videos. It is not permitted either to portray such athletes on packaging and/or labels.

    Paragraph 4

    The following is permitted with regard to athletes who practice their sports professionally:

    • to interview them in a journalistic setting with the logo or brand name of an advertiser visible on screen;
    • to let these athletes participate in a public celebration, made possible by an advertiser in a physical environment in which messages such as the logo and brand name of that advertiser are also visible; and
    • to register this ceremony and distribute images thereof (or to have them distributed) via an (online) platform.

    Paragraph 5

    Communications with athletes who practice their sports professionally may not contain a direct promotion of an alcoholic beverage.

    Paragraph 6

    Athletes interviewed or honoured in communications must be 18 years or older.

    Paragraph 7

    Advertising for alcoholic beverages shall not portray any active sporting activities on packaging of alcoholic beverages.

    Paragraph 8

    It is permitted to portray active sports practice in advertising messages, but exclusively to portray the context of celebrating the performance afterwards.

    Paragraph 9

    At sports competitions involving athletes who practice their sports professionally, it is permitted to display alcohol advertising messages on the boarding, provided that Article 20 is complied with.

    Paragraph 10

    During amateur competitions it is not permitted to show alcohol advertising messages on the boarding.

  • 30. Fairs

    During a specialized fair it is permitted to exhibitors to make buyers acquainted with their products. The conditions mentioned in the explanation of Article 25 do not apply here.

  • 31. Tap installations

    Members of the industry are not permitted to provide professional tap installations free of charge or for a symbolic fee at shows, events and festivities.

Educational slogan

  • 32. Educational slogan

    paragraph 1

    Every advertising message for an alcoholic beverage should show the ‘NIX18’ logo on screen. This logo can be used in combination with ‘Geniet, maar drink met mate’ (English: Enjoy, but please drink responsibly).

    paragraph 2

    For advertising messages for alcoholic beverages that are broadcasted on television, in cinemas and theatres, it holds that the screen shall in any case contain the  – clearly readable – ‘NIX18’ logo.

    paragraph 3

    For all printed advertising as well as for commercials for alcoholic beverages on websites and social networking sites (including social media) – even if that advertising is distributed by a third person with whom the advertiser has a relevant relationship – each expression must in any case be provided with the ‘NIX18’ logo as mentioned in paragraph 2. Exceptions are expressions portrayed on the internet that are no longer part of a current campaign.

    For promotional advertising in the retail channel another logo/slogan than the ‘NIX18’ logo referred to in paragraph 2 may be used. Before using another slogan for the first time, permission must be obtained from the Retail Code Contact Person and STIVA.

    paragraph 4

    All advertising messages for alcoholic beverages in banner form should at least be provided with the ‘NIX18’ logo such as mentioned in paragraph 2. This does not apply to banners equal to or smaller than 120 pixels wide and 60 pixels high.

    paragraph 5
    In case of advertising alcoholic beverages, the image/screen must contain the ‘NIX18’ logo. For influencers and influencer marketing, when distributing via social media, it is also permitted to add NIX18 or #NIX18 in the description and/or image, instead of adding the  ‘NIX18’ logo to the image itself.

    paragraph 6
    Directives for showing the ‘NIX18’ logo for all forms of advertising mentioned in this article are included in the explanation of this article.

    Explanation of Article 32

    Showing the ‘NIX18’ logo is obligatory in advertisements for alcoholic beverages on  television, in cinemas, in printed advertisements and in commercials for alcoholic beverages on the internet. Here the following guidelines apply:

    Printed Communications

    Type of Communications

    The requirements for the use of the ‘NIX18’ logo and the slogan ‘Geniet, maar drink met mate’ apply to the following printed communications: advertising messages in newspapers, magazines, flyers and posters, and displays (including billboards, swanks, bus shelters and multi-purpose advertising installations) in which an alcoholic beverage, brand or producer is the central point of attention.

    Slogan Format

    Dependent on the dimensions of the communication (width x length/height). The ‘NIX18’ logo must cover at least 1.25% of the surface of the image size.

    Slogan Position The ‘NIX18’ logo must be placed sufficiently isolated as compared to the  typeset body text and must be positioned horizontally, so that it draws sufficient attention.

    Slogan Layout

    The ‘NIX18’ logo must clearly contrast with the background colour, so that it draws sufficient attention, hereby making use, as much as possible, of positive (black) or negative (white) or another clear colour contrast that suits the ‘NIX18’ logo.

    Television, Cinema and Internet Commercials (including Social Media)

    Size of the logo The ‘NIX18’ logo must cover at least 1.25% of the surface of the size of the screen.

    Logo Duration The ‘NIX18’ logo must be on screen for at least 10 seconds. Tag-ons and tag-forwards must also display the ‘NIX18’ logo for 10 seconds. If the commercial, tag-on or tag-forward is shorter than 10 seconds, the slogan must be displayed for the entire duration of the communication.

    Slogan Position The ‘NIX18’ logo must be placed sufficiently isolated as compared to the typeset body text and must be placed horizontally, so that it draws sufficient attention.

    Slogan Layout

    The ‘NIX18’ logo must clearly contrast with the background colour, so that it draws sufficient attention, hereby making use, as much as possible, of positive (black) or negative (white) or another clear colour contrast that suits the ‘NIX18’ logo.

    Timing of the logo The logo may not be displayed simultaneously with a pack-shot, disclaimer or pay-off. The logo must furthermore be placed sufficiently isolated as compared to the typeset body text, so that it draws sufficient attention.


    Banners on the internet & internet marketing

    Size of the slogan

    The ‘NIX18’ logo must cover at least 1.25% of the surface of the image size.

    Type of communications

    The requirements for the use of the ‘NIX18’ logo apply to all types of banners and posts on social media. This does not apply to banners that are less than or equal to 120 pixels in width and 60 pixels in height.

    Logo duration In case of advertising videos or commercials the ‘NIX18’ logo must be on screen for at least 10 seconds. Tag-ons and tag-forwards must also display the ‘NIX18’ logo for 10 seconds. If the tag-on, tag-forward or advertisement is shorter than 10 seconds, then the slogan must be displayed for the entire duration of the communication.

    Logo position The ‘NIX18’ logo must be placed sufficiently isolated as compared to the typeset body text and must be placed horizontally, so that it draws sufficient attention.

    Logo layout The ‘NIX18’ logo must clearly contrast with the background colour, so that it draws sufficient attention, hereby making use, as much as possible, of positive (black) or negative (white) or another clear colour contrast that suits the ‘NIX18’ logo.

    The ‘NIX18’ logo must be visible in the communication itself, adding the ‘NIX18’ logo to the description is not enough. An exception to this applies to influencers, as described in Article 32, paragraph 5.

    The use of the ‘NIX18’ logo:The NIX18 logo: this logo can be downloaded (in various colours) from the STIVA website:

    Download the NIX18 logo

    Click here to download the available colors of the NIX18 logo

    How to apply the NIX18 logo

    Donwload an example of a calculation of the minimum size of the NIX18 logo here

Alert

  • 33. Retail and catering industry alert

    If the packaging of an alcoholic beverage has been found to violate the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages by means of an irrevocable ruling of the (chairman of the) Advertising Code Committee or the College van Beroep (Board of Appeal), STIVA will take the following consecutive measures:

    1. Contact the manufacturer
    2. Contact the importer (if applicable)
    3. If the ruling is not complied with within 3 months, STIVA may issue a so-called ‘retail alert’. This means that STIVA will issue a warning to the relevant trade organizations of supermarkets, liquor stores and the catering industry that the relevant packaging is in conflict with the Advertising Code for Alcoholic Beverages.