Promoting alcohol responsibly

Promoting alcohol responsibly

The Portman Group explains the system of regulation of alcohol marketing in the UK, which occurs through collaboration, clear Codes of Practice, independent oversight, and support as well as sanctions.


Alcohol producers are committed to promoting their products responsibly.

And there is a comprehensive network of regulation in place to ensure that they do.

Alcohol marketing in the UK is regulated through a mixture of self-regulation and co-regulation by:

  • Ofcom
  • The Advertising Standards Authority
  • And the Portman Group

We are a not-for-profit organisation funded by UK drinks producers.

Our Codes – which apply to any producers of alcohol products on sale in the UK – operate alongside the law and complement the ASA regulations. 

We also have over 140 producers and retailers signed up to the Code to demonstrate their commitment to responsible marketing, representing over 90% of all alcohol sold.

The Code sets out eleven rules that the industry must comply with.

It only takes one complaint to trigger an investigation and complaints can be made by anyone.

Complaints are considered by an Independent Complaints Panel of lay people unconnected with the drinks industry.

If the Panel upholds a complaint, there are two sanctions which can apply. 

A Retailer Alert Bulletin requests licensed retailers not to re-stock a product or promotional material after a specified date – usually three months. 

In the meantime, the onus is on the producer to make changes- or withdraw the product. 

A press release is also issued to the trade press – adverse publicity is a powerful tool.

More than 150 irresponsible products have been removed from the market as a result of Portman Group rulings.

But we don’t always have to get to this stage.

We have a free and confidential pre-launch Advisory Service to support producers in marketing their products responsibly.

We also offer free CPD certified training to organisations who want to learn more about responsible alcohol marketing.

Collaboration, clear Codes of Practice, independent oversight, support as well as sanctions combine to ensure comprehensive regulation of alcohol marketing in the UK.