Portman Group responds to CAP and BCAP consultation on low-alcohol advertising

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) recently ran a consultation with the proposal to amend their rule which currently limits marketing claims for low-alcohol products.

The proposed amendment would allow marketers to promote low-alcohol drinks as part of their standard range.  Although the existing rule allows for low-alcohol and standard strength products in the same advert, it cannot suggest that the low strength version is a reason to prefer the low alcoholic drink.

We’ve submitted our response which you can read in full here.  We wanted to draw attention to the consultation as another positive step that is being made to support the innovation and growth of the low and no sector.  The growth of the category reflects the strong commitment from the industry to improve the range of options for consumers who want greater freedom of choice when looking to moderate their alcohol consumption.

Our Response and the Portman Group’s Code of Practice

We agree that removing this restriction would be beneficial for low-alcohol products to be advertised alongside standard strength drinks and thereby provide consumers with greater choice.

In our consultation response, we also encouraged CAP and BCAP to go further and align the amendment with the Portman Group’s strength rule in the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks which allows for ‘lower’ strength category comparisons.

The rule effectively allows for two types of comparative claims to be made:

  1. Products which are below average strength (within category), or existing products which have been reformulated to below average strength, may make a virtue of their strength providing this is done in a manner which is proportionate to the product’s strength relative to the category average.
  2. Products of above average strength for a category can make factual statements about strength, or factual statements about the reduction in strength, following any reformulation.

The rule requires that the ‘lower’ strength must be emphasised proportionately when it is below the average strength for its category.  As an example, the average strength of beer is 4.4% ABV[1], any beer below this and above 1.2% ABV could be classified as ‘lower’, with more emphasis permitted for those products at 1.3% – 3.1% ABV.

To read our guidance on ‘lower’ strength products and comparative strength claims, please click here.

If you have any questions about our consultation response or would like an informal conversation about a product’s packaging or promotion, please email with full details of your query.  We’ll aim to get back to you within 48 hours, free of charge.

[1] Public Health England, 2020