The Union of European Beverages Associations (UNESDA) established the guidelines to encourage soft drinks brands to act responsibly in their marketing on the internet, phones, games, and messenger sites. The new rules apply to all digital marketing communications media purchasing in Europe as well as to all brand and corporate sites.
This represents an extension of a code established by the trade association in 2006 to prevent brands from directly targeting children under 12 in advertising on TV, radio, print and online.
Although the original commitments covered all forms of advertising in principle, the new guidelines contain tangible and verifiable steps to ensure compliance. The UNESDA said new technologies and growing experience in the digital area have made this possible.
A spokesperson for the UNESDA said the growth in independent auditing data to verify visitor numbers to websites has made it possible to track audiences and confirm that companies and ad agencies are following the marketing rules.
In line with the 2006 rules, the new digital guidelines specify that the requirement not to target children means that at least 50 per cent of the audience should be over 12.
The UNESDA spokesperson said the 50 per cent threshold is set to prevent advertising explicitly aimed at children but does not seek to block companies from advertising through adult orientated channels that may inevitably be accessed by children.
So far the new digital guidelines have been signed by seven UNESDA corporate members including the Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic, the Gerber Emig Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Orangina Group and PepsiCo.
The UNESDA president Luis Back said: “These new guidelines recognize that digital communications on the internet play an increasingly important role in the marketing mix of our non-alcoholic beverage brands.”
The trade association will commission an independent audit in about a year to assess progress. Back said: “As with all of our commitments we will review these digital guidelines on a regular basis and adapt them in line with evolution in the marketplace.”