Compliance with Regulations and Codes of Conduct at Social Media Accounts of Swedish Alcohol Brands
Introduction and Aims
This study has, for the first time, mapped the extent to which alcoholic beverage brands operating on the Swedish market follow national advertising regulations and industry self‐regulating codes in their postings on social media.
Design and Methods
All social media content posted on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by 52 brands operating in the Swedish market was gathered from three sample months in 2014, 2016 and 2017. A content analysis was performed.
An audit of the 1204 posts shows that the brands’ social media content conforms rather well with the industry’s own self‐regulation codes.
However, the studied alcohol brands had alarmingly inadequate age‐gates to social media accounts. Advertisements for alcoholic beverages must be clearly distinguishable from advertisements for non‐alcoholic beverages, according to the Swedish Alcohol Act criteria. These criteria are fulfilled to a varying degree among the posts in the analysed data. Advertisements for non‐alcoholic beverages give companies a greater leeway in terms of shape and content of the post through logotypes, settings and connotations. However, advertisements of non‐alcoholic beverages continue to convey the brand connotations and image to consumers.
Discussion and Conclusions
Regulating alcohol advertising in online milieus can be very difficult because of the complex mixture between quickly evolving techniques and the diverse nature of communication messages targeting consumers.
Many countries, including Sweden, are now focusing on how to enforce effective policies. This short report strives to shed some light on the scope and content of commercial messages on Swedish social media platforms.