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Industry Trade Organizations Update Ad Codes to Reflect Census Data

Over the last week, leading industry trade groups have announced updates to their respective codes of advertising and marketing standards. These revisions are based on the latest 2020 census data released by the United States Census Bureau and aimed at ensuring alcohol advertising reaches an appropriate adult audience and complies with the industry’s commitment to responsible promotion.

Under the new guidelines, alcohol advertising should not appear in any media where more than 26.3% of the audience is under 21 years old, the legal purchasing age. The previous threshold, based on the 2010 census data, was 28.4%. The decision to revise the standard was prompted by the 2020 census data, which revealed that 73.8% of the U.S. population is 21 years of age and older, an increase from the previous figure of 71.6%. This adjustment ensures that alcoholic beverage advertisements are effectively targeted towards the intended adult audience. By aligning advertising strategies with the revised codes, industry members can demonstrate their commitment to responsible marketing and product promotion.

The adoption of the census-based standard was originally recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its 2008 report on “Self-Regulation in the Alcohol Industry.” Periodic updates to these voluntary standards ensure the industry practices reflect changes to modern society and technology.

Trade organizations including The Wine Institute, The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), American Distilled Spirits Alliance (ADSA), Beer Institute, and Brewer’s Association are among the groups that have released updated guidelines.


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