Facebook Implements Additional Alcohol Advertisement Guidelines

[Editor’s Note: Additional coverage on Facebook policies and guidelines affecting advertisers and marketers is available through the Facebook Marketing Bible, our comprehensive guide to marketing brands, products, and content on Facebook.]

Facebook updated its advertisement policy guidelines with significant new restrictions to ads for or depicting alcohol last month. All alcohol ads must be targeted by country, cannot target any users in a set of predominantly Middle Eastern countries, and can’t include creative that misleads users to think alcohol is healthy, suitable for minors, or a contributor to success.

Facebook has also stripped out the portion of the guidelines regarding its Demographic Restrictions for Pages, but Platform ads still must use FMBL tags to restrict those underage from seeing alcohol content or ads. Advertisers must follow these and all other parts of Facebook’s ad guidelines or their ads may be rejected or removed.

The biggest change to the alcohol policy is that previously Facebook required that all alcohol ads that targeted a country comply with age restrictions of that country, or restrict to 21 and over if there was no specific age requirement for that country. However, advertisers could circumvent this guideline by not targeting a country. Now, all alcohol ads must include country targeting.

Alcohol ad creative can no longer depict anyone who is or appears to be under the age of 25. Before, ads simply could not depict anyone under the legal drinking age of the country where the ads were shown.

Regardless of a user’s age. alcohol ads can no longer be targeted to those in Afghanistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Norway, “or any other market where such ads are prohibited.”

Additional new guidelines prohibit portraying abstinence from alcohol negatively; depicting alcohol as “causing or contributing to the achievement of personal, business, social, sporting, sexual or other success”; or suggesting alcohol has medical benefits. Some especially vague new guidelines include prohibiting association of alcohol consumption with sports, or other hazardous activities; or with “violent, dangerous or antisocial behavior.” Alcohol ads must now also comply with local industry guidelines, and advertisers must list a “permanent address if required by local law.”

Absent are any additional restrictions on the advertisement of drugs or depiction of drug symbols. Facebook recently rejected ads depicting a marijuana leaf because the image is “classified with all smoking products” according to Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes. Facebook has not clarified how the restriction on “tobacco products” applies to marijuana.

Below is the full text of Section 10 “Ads for Alcoholic Beverages” from the September 1st revision of Facebook’s ad guidelines. All additions since the June revision to the guidelines are shown in bold.

  1. Ads for Alcoholic Beverages
    1. To the extent permitted by law and these guidelines, ads may only be targeted to the following age groups:
      1. 25 years or older in India and Sweden;
      2. 21 years or older in US;
      3. 20 years or older in Japan;
      4. 19 years or older in Canada;
      5. 18 years or older in Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Malaysia, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the UK; or
      6. 21 years or older in any country not listed above.
    2. All ads must:
      1. Be age and country targeted (where a user’s age or country cannot be determined, the ad cannot be displayed to the user in question);
      2. Comply with all local required or recommended industry codes, guidelines, notice and warnings, licenses and approvals; and
      3. List your permanent address if required by local law.
    3. No ads may ever:
      1. Include content (including but not limited to celebrities, characters, imagery, or the depiction of situations) that is intended to appeal to anyone younger than the permissible targeted age group or is otherwise associated with youth culture (this could include, by way of example only, implying that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is fashionable or the accepted course of behavior for those who are underage);
      2. Portray or be targeted at pregnant or nursing women;
      3. Contain ad creative that includes any person that is or appears to be under the age of 25 or is otherwise suggestive of the presence of anyone younger than the permissible targeted age group;
      4. Be untruthful or misleading about alcoholic beverages, their use, effects or properties;
      5. Portray people consuming or encourage people to consume alcohol rapidly, in excess, or irresponsibly;
      6. Portray abstinence from alcohol consumption or moderate alcohol consumption negatively;
      7. Portray or promote intoxication or make references to the intoxicating effects of alcohol;
      8. Portray the strength of the alcoholic beverage being advertised as positive property;
      9. Portray the consumption of alcoholic beverages as causing or contributing to the achievement of personal, business, social, sporting, sexual or other success;
      10. Portray alcoholic drinks as being healthy, offering medical or therapeutic benefits, aiding relaxation, alleviating individual or collective problems, or having other benefits;
      11. Associate the operation of any vehicle or engagement in any sport or potentially hazardous activity as having taken place during or after the consumption of alcohol;
      12. Associate violent, dangerous or antisocial behavior with the consumption of alcohol;
      13. Promote any alcoholic beverage tastings, giveaways of alcoholic beverages, or other giveaways as a reward for purchasing alcoholic beverages;
      14. Advertise any beverage with more than 22% alcohol by volume if targeted to users in Finland; or
      15. Target any users (irrespective of age) in Afghanistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kuwait, Norway, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen or any other market where such ads are prohibited.
    4. It is recommended that all ads contain text that promotes drinking responsibly (for example “Drink Responsibly”, “Drink Smart” or other similar text customarily used in the targeted market).

To learn more about Facebook advertising and the policies that govern it, check out the Facebook Marketing Bible – the most comprehensive resource for Facebook advertisers and marketers anywhere.

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