We have made changes to our sampling guidance to further enhance measures to discourage drink driving. Read more to ensure to ensure your sampling activity is kept in line.

New Sampling Guidance

Sampling can be defined as the unconditional giving away of alcohol to the general public in a public place, including licensed premises (unless the premises are being used for a private function). It allows consumers to assess free of charge the taste and quality of a product. Running a sampling activity can be a great way to build brand loyalty with fan favourites or to introduce consumers to exciting new flavours, but it’s imperative to make sure that sampling is conducted in a responsible manner. With that in mind, the Advisory Service has recently refreshed its guidance to help clarify our position – read on for a sample below.

The main change to our guidance has been to update our position on non-sealed sampling activity in car parks of a licensed premise. In simple terms, this is the type of sampling where a consumer is expected to drink / try the alcohol there and then. Additionally, we have updated our guidance on encouraging irresponsible or immoderate consumption.

Decades of drink driving declines

We launch this as another action in a long and credible set of initiatives by government and the sector to reduce drinking and driving. Public information campaigns including THINK!, coupled with the breathalyser test and the focused efforts of British Transport Police over recent decades have had a palpable effect on drink driving. The industry has run many innovative campaigns to discourage drink driving and there is a huge investment in alcohol alternatives so dedicated drivers have a better option than an orange juice. Our most recent low alcohol research by YouGov said that the most cited reasons for why consumers choose low and no alcohol are to drive home and not drink excessively at social events. Finally, we are incredibly proud of the I’ll be Des campaigns which we ran in the 1990’s and the continued support the work of Drinkaware as they roll out the Home and Dry campaign.

In 1979, the number of road deaths attributed to alcohol was 1,640. By 2000, it was 530 and it is now 220. Over the past decade drink driving accidents and casualties have fallen by 30% and 33% respectively (Department of Transport, 2022).

Guidance details – where to sample

The updated guidance explains that open container sampling should not be held in a car park of a licensed premises (a supermarket or pub for example). This is to ensure that producers are not encouraging irresponsible consumption such as drinking before driving. We would strongly caution against creating any link between alcohol consumption and driving, regardless of the amount of alcohol being consumed and the change in guidance reflects this position.

In terms of sealed container sampling, it is likely to still be acceptable as a consumer would be able to take the drink away and enjoy it at their leisure. Similarly, brand activation campaigns in a carpark of a licensed premise are also likely to be acceptable because it does not encourage a consumer to drink alcohol before driving.

Guidance details – discouraging irresponsible or immoderate consumption

Alongside the change to our sampling guidance, we have also updated our guidance on encouraging irresponsible or immoderate consumption. Like the above, the changes to this guidance clarify that any insinuation of alcohol consumption before driving is likely to be problematic, even if it is not actually depicted. However, it is the Advisory Service’s view that the use of a vehicle in alcohol marketing is not necessarily inherently problematic; as always it will be the overall impression that determines compliance with the Codes.

If you want more information about sampling, why not check out our guidance here or speak to a member of the Advisory Service for a free confidential view.