Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol

The new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code was adopted by the ASA in December 2020.

The new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code became effective all ads from 1 July 2021. 

A pdf version of this code can be viewed here – Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol

All alcohol advertising and promotion shall adhere to the laws of New Zealand and the Principles and Guidelines set out in this Code. The Advertising Standards Code should also be consulted, where relevant.

Alcohol is a restricted product in New Zealand. Because of the health and social impacts of the misuse of alcohol, this Code requires specific restraints on advertising and promotion. There are also a number of restrictions in legislation and in industry-supported initiatives.

Please note that Section 237 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act also covers the irresponsible promotion of alcohol. See the National Guidance on Alcohol Promotions for On-License Premises and the National Guidance on Alcohol Promotions for Off-License Premises supported by the Health Promotion Agency, New Zealand Police, Local Government New Zealand and Hospitality New Zealand. Copies are available here. Attention is also drawn to the Standard Drink Guidelines.

This Code is designed to ensure that alcohol advertising and promotion is consistent with the need for responsibility and moderation in merchandising and consumption, and does not encourage consumption by minors. Particular care is also required in the advertising and promotion of products likely to have strong appeal to young adults over the legal purchase age.

In interpreting the Code emphasis will be placed on compliance with both the principles and the spirit and intention of the code. The guidelines are merely examples, by no means exhaustive, of how the principles are to be interpreted and applied. It is possible for advertising or promotions to be in breach of the principle without being in breach of a specific guideline. Upon complaint, the Advertising Standards Complaints Boards is vested with discretion to ensure a common-sense outcome and have regard to all relevant matters, including the overall impression conveyed, context and target market and in the case of promotions, their duration, entry mechanism, location, if there is a prize how it is awarded, and application of the ALAC low risk drinking advice. It is important to note that the likely audience (including the media advertisements are broadcast, printed, or displayed in) is a key factor in determining code compliance.

This Code covers advertising and promotion of all pre-packaged and bulk alcoholic drinks with an alcoholic strength above 1.15% abv, which are advertised and promoted for sale and consumption in New Zealand.

This Code applies to products promoted primarily as alcoholic ‘drinks’, even if they are classified as foodstuffs rather than drinks for the purposes of licensing or customs and excise legislation, or even if they appear to be gaseous, solid or heavily textured (or can be made to be, for example by freezing or shaking), rather than liquid.

For the avoidance of doubt, this Code does not apply to bona fide news, reviews, editorial and broadcast entertainment and sports programmes. This code also does not apply to any advertising materials or activities whose purpose is solely and clearly to educate people about the responsible use and / or misuse of alcohol.

It is the responsibility of all companies and enterprises connected with the alcoholic drinks industry in New Zealand (whether as producers, importers, wholesalers, distributors or retailers) to comply with this Code. This includes the provision of adequate and appropriate briefings to external agencies from whom the companies/enterprises may commission design or promotional work. Approval by the Liquor Advertising & Promotion Pre-vetting System (LAPPS) is strongly recommended.


Alcohol advertising and promotion” means an advertisement, packaging, point of sale or other promotions, activities and materials (including dispenser units) generated by an alcohol producer, distributor or retailer that promotes alcohol by product, brand or outlet. This includes media releases, branded merchandise, competitions, word of mouth marketing, advergaming, product displays and sampling, but does not include a sponsorship advertisement or an advertisement in which reference to or the depiction of alcohol or alcohol packaging or an alcohol outlet is incidental to its purpose. An advertisement including a reference to licensed premises is not automatically an alcohol advertisement – the intent of the advertisement must be to promote the consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol advertiser” means an advertiser that markets or sells alcohol and uses its name or any identifying feature to promote the sale of alcohol in any way.

Branded merchandise” means products available in New Zealand bearing liquor or outlet branding which have been produced by, on behalf of, or with the permission of, a liquor producer, distributor or retailer.

Heroes and/or heroines of the young” means a person or character (and includes groups / teams) whose example is likely to be followed by minors or who has strong appeal to minors.

Light (or lite) alcohol” means liquor containing a maximum of 2.5% alcohol by volume.

Minors” are people who are under the age at which they are legally entitled to purchase liquor.

Sponsorship” means any agreement or part of an agreement involving payment or other consideration in lieu of payment by a liquor producer, distributor or retailer to support a sporting or cultural property, event or activity, in return for which the sponsored party agrees to be associated with or promote the sponsor’s drink(s) or outlet. The Code applies to the overall sponsorship agreement, including any material bearing the sponsor’s logo or trademark. It does not apply to any use to which that material might subsequently be put, or to the behaviour or activities of sponsored parties, if that is not required or specifically permitted by the sponsorship agreement.

Sponsorship advertisement” means an advertisement which clearly indicates that the advertiser is sponsoring a person, competition, activity or event. Any advertisement referring to a sponsorship that does not comply with Guidelines 4(a) to 4(e) of Principle 4 is deemed to be an alcohol advertisement.

Websites” means a website, or part of a website, managed by or on behalf of a liquor producer, distributor or retailer for the promotion of their brand(s) or outlets primarily to the New Zealand market. Producers, distributors and retailers are responsible for any part of the website over which they have editorial control.

User Generated Content” means content on websites or emails where the public contributes to the content, such as the YouTube and Facebook websites and viral emails. The Code applies to promotions on such websites and emails where the producer, distributor or retailer provides a platform for, or distributes the user-generated content or endorses the user-generated content.


Guideline 1 (a)    Guidance Note
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not link alcohol with daring, aggressive, unruly, irresponsible or antisocial behaviour nor suggest any association with, acceptance of, or allusion to, tobacco, illicit drugs or volatile substances such as glue and petrol; explosives and weaponry.  
  • The intent of this guideline is to prevent the linking of alcohol with highly risky behaviour.
  • This guideline does not prevent the depiction of physical activities including sports in advertising and promotions but care must be taken to ensure alcohol products are not consumed before or during the activity. This also applies to Guideline 1(e).
Guideline 1 (b)    Guidance Note
While alcohol advertising and promotions may depict the consumption of alcohol as incidental to a friendly and happy social environment, it shall not promote drinking alcohol as a better or more attractive lifestyle choice nor imply that the success of a social occasion depends on the presence or consumption of alcohol.


  • This does not prevent the use of imagery of social settings such as a dinner party / BBQ or other occasion where the responsible serving of alcohol would not be unexpected.



Guideline 1 (c)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not suggest that alcohol can lead to sexual, social, sporting or business success or popularity or is necessary to achieve social status with peers.




Guideline 1 (d)    Guidance Note
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not depict alcohol as a necessity, nor required for relaxation nor suggest it offers any therapeutic benefit.


  • Advertisements should not convey the message that a state of relaxation cannot be achieved without the consumption of alcohol but it is acceptable to suggest that a consumer can relax while consuming alcohol moderately, for example, an invitation to relax or unwind with brand X.
Guideline 1 (e)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not actively link alcohol with the use of potentially dangerous machinery or driving or any other hazardous or unsafe practices. Alcohol advertising and promotions may include sporting or other physical activities but shall not imply that those activities have been undertaken after the consumption of alcohol.


Guideline 1 (f)   
Where it is necessary to purchase alcohol as a condition of entry, alcohol advertising and promotions shall not offer any potentially hazardous prizes in any competition. Examples include motor vehicles, boats or any other potentially dangerous machinery.


Guideline 1 (g)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not cause widespread or serious offence, taking into account prevailing community standards, context, audience, medium and product.




Guideline 1 (h)   
Alcohol advertising and promotion shall not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive or is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer. Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is not considered to be misleading.






Guideline 2 (a)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not emphasize a product’s alcoholic strength, except where the product is a light (or lite) alcohol product but can include factual information about the alcoholic strength.    



Guideline 2 (b)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not feature, imply, condone or encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking. That applies to both the amount of drink and the way drinking is portrayed.    



Guideline 2 (c)   
Where the prize in an alcohol promotion is a large quantity of alcohol, it should not be supplied in one delivery and any such prize should be consistent with the Health Promotion Agency standard drink guidelines.  


Guideline 3 (a)    Guidance Note
Alcohol advertising and promotions in non-restricted areas shall not use or refer to identifiable heroes or heroines of the young.  
  • This Guideline is included within the Principle which requires alcohol advertising and promotion to be targeted at adult audiences. The selection of media, placement, style of presentation, content and context where ads appear are all key factors in determining Code compliance. For example a different standard is applicable in an on-premise or specialist alcohol outlet than a general supermarket (other than a restricted area in a supermarket), where greater care would be required. Similarly advertising in media, where the audience is less predictable, and likely to include minors requires care. Age-restricted websites are another example where there is an adult audience.
  • Some heroes of the young are clearly targeted to a young audience and should not be used for alcohol advertising and promotion. Others will have appeal to a wider age group and are suitable for use if specific attention is given to the appropriate environment in terms of context and placement in which the message is presented. An adult audience of at least 75% would be expected in such cases. The Advertising Standards Complaints Board is the final arbiter as to whether an advertisement has appropriately targeted an adult audience.
  • In order to minimise the appeal of alcohol products to minors, heroes that minors may wish to emulate or that have strong appeal should not be included in alcohol advertising that includes images of products and/or sales messaging, intended to promote the sale and consumption of alcohol in non-restricted areas where minors are likely to see such advertising.
  • To be considered to have strong appeal under the Code, the hero must have more than recognition, it would be an individual or group that minors would aspire to be or to connect with.
  • A number of teams in particular have been identified as heroes of the young. They include the All Blacks, the Kiwi League team, the Warriors League team, the Black Caps cricket team and the Silver Ferns netball team. This identification applies to the teams and high profile individuals that are current team members. Other representative sports teams may also be heroes of the young, for example Super 15 Rugby franchises have been identified as such.
  • Not all sports teams or sports people would be considered heroes of the young. Most retired sports people would not meet the threshold with regard to a level of appeal and hero status (excluding recent retirements). Sports that are less appealing to young people would also fit into this category. It is important to take into account the age range of minors which provide the key measurement – up to 18 years.
  • Events and tournaments are also not heroes of the young, although teams / participants in them may be.
  • Celebrities, TV and film stars and musicians with particular appeal to a younger demographic could be heroes of the young. In making this assessment, considerations should be given to the ratings of the shows/films they have appeared in, and the target audience for the shows/films and for a singer or band’s music.
  • Note, where the teams / individuals / groups pro-actively connect with under 18’s through children’s merchandise, special training sessions for children to attend, and other initiatives with a youth focus – then the likelihood of an issue re heroes of the young is increased.
  • Sponsorship advertising is defined separately under the Code. Please also review the Sponsorship Guidance Note below
Guideline 3 (b)   
Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not use designs, motifs, or cartoon characters that have strong or evident appeal to minors or that create confusion with confectionery or soft drinks.    



Guideline 3 (c)   
Anyone visually prominent in alcohol advertising and promotions depicting alcohol being consumed shall be, and shall appear to be, at least 25 years of age with their behaviour and appearance clearly appropriate for people of that age or older. Minors may appear in alcohol advertising and promotions only in situations where they would naturally be found, for example in a family barbecue, provided that there is no direct or implied suggestion that they will serve or consume alcohol.    






Guideline 3 (d)   
Alcohol Advertisements shall not be shown on television between 6.00 am and 8.30 pm.


Guideline 3 (e)   
Broadcasters shall avoid the impression that alcohol promotion is dominating the viewing or listening period when broadcasting alcohol advertisements, including alcohol sponsorship advertisements taking into account the context of the programme.    




Guideline 3 (f)   
Television alcohol advertising shall not exceed six minutes per hour, and there shall be no more than two advertisements for alcohol in a single commercial break.    



Guideline 3 (g)   
Alcohol branded merchandise, point of sale materials and other promotions for alcohol must not be available in unrestricted areas at events or activities where more than 25 per cent of the expected audience is minors.    



Guideline 3 (h)    Guidance Note
Websites that provide online retail sale of alcohol products shall require purchasers to certify that they are 18 years of age or over.


  • The Code requires all alcohol brand websites to have age verification entry pages. This should be in a format that requires the user to enter a birth date, not just a yes / no option in response to an age question. Advertisers should ensure they are up-to-date with any technological advances that may help minimise the risk of access by minors to brand sites.
  • The use of an appropriate default website if someone enters a birth date which indicates they are a minor is recommended such as a relevant page on the Alcohol Advisory Council website.
  • Many alcohol brands make use of social media to connect with their target audience, an advertising medium that is relatively new and continually evolving. It is noted that most social media networks have their own policies on age-related tags and advertiser should ensure that their pages comply with these policies. For example see:
  • Where an advertiser has direct involvement with a website or social media pages content and ‘ownership’ of it, it is expected the user generated content (UGC) will be regularly monitored to ensure the content complies with the code requirements.
  • If a complaint is accepted about UGC on an alcohol brand-owned Facebook page (or similar), steps that an advertiser has taken to target that content to an adult audience will be helpful in the response to the complaint.
  • Risk areas for UGC include: images of clearly intoxicated people, people who may be minors drinking to excess, overtly sexual imagery linked with alcohol, people posing with alcohol while involved in risk-taking behaviour – driving, water sports, rock climbing, operating dangerous machinery etc. Written comments may also be a problem particularly wording that encourages or reports excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • It is acknowledged that advertisers can only be responsible for the material that is on the sites / pages that they own or manage. Where possible, links to pages with content likely to breach the codes should be removed but the content of an individual’s social media page /profile, with no connection to the advertiser, is outside the jurisdiction of the ASA.
Guideline 3 (i)   
Websites that primarily promote an alcohol brand and contain games, competitions or other interactive activities shall have an Age Verification Page at entry. Verification shall be by way of input of the visitor’s date of birth. 



Guideline 4 (a)   Guidance Note
Shall not contain a sales message.


  • Alcohol companies can sponsor teams / events / individuals and activities.
  • It is helpful if a clear sponsorship association is made in sponsorship advertising (e.g. proud sponsor of x).
  • The primary focus of a sponsorship advertisement should be on the activity (e.g. Homegrown Music Festival), the team (e.g. All Blacks) or the sponsored individual.
  • Principle 4, Guideline 4(e) requires that the advertisement “only briefly and in a subordinate way mention the sponsor’s name / and or brand name and /or logo”. In practical terms, this has been interpreted as being approximately 15% of the advertising space / time available.
  • It will not always be possible to apply a proportion of space rule as described above and consideration will be given to the overall look and feel of the material and whether the advertisement is promoting the event or product. This is most likely to apply where a sponsor has naming rights to an event, including the use of the brand in an event or activity name (e.g. Brand X New Zealand Golf Open).
  • Teams and individuals who may otherwise be considered heroes of the young and prevented from being included in alcohol advertisements, may be included in sponsorship advertisements as long as the requirements set out in the Guidelines (4a to 4e) are met.
  • The definition of sponsorship advertisement confirms that any advertisement that refers to sponsorship but does not comply with the guidelines in Principle 4 – for example, inclusion of a product shot – automatically becomes an alcohol advertisement and must comply with all the requirements of that part of the Code.
  • References to heroes of the young in alcohol advertising (defined separately to sponsorship advertising) are specifically dealt with in a separate Guidance Note for Principle 3 above
Guideline 4 (b)
Shall not show a product or product packaging.


Guideline 4 (c)
Shall not imitate or use any parts of product advertisements from any media.


Guideline 4 (d)   
Shall not portray consumption of alcohol.


Guideline 4 (e) 
Shall only briefly and in a subordinate way mention or portray the sponsor’s name and/or brand name and/or logo orally and/or visually.


Guideline 4 (f) 
May be broadcast at any time except during programmes intended particularly for minors.


Guidelines for Sponsorship

Guideline 4 (g) 
Alcohol producers, distributors or retailers should not engage in sponsorship where those under 18 years of age are likely to comprise more than 25% of the participants, or spectators.


Guideline 4 (h) 
Sponsors shall not require or permit sponsored parties to feature alcohol branding on children’s size replica sports kit or on any promotional material distributed to minors.