Birmingham PR and marketing agency Seal is gathering together senior figures from some of the UK’s leading alcohol brands to plot a clearer route through the maze of rules governing the use of social media to promote their products.

While a ‘responsible digital marketing pact’ between major brewers provides an overarching vision, those working at the ‘coalface’ are concerned it doesn’t go far enough, particularly when it comes to marketing to young people.

The issues will be thrashed out in ‘How alcohol brands can avoid a social media hangover’, a specialist round table debate due to take place on Monday (23 July) being chaired by Gordon Johncox, Marketing Director of Aston Manor Brewery and organised and hosted by Seal. The Advertising Standards Authority will also be present.

Gordon said: “This is a hot topic for the industry. The pact is an important initiative but it doesn’t go into the fine detail required to cover all the challenges that the growing number and variety of social media channels puts before us.”

The panel will debate a range of thorny issues encountered in managing social space for alcohol brands, from how best to deal with consumers posting inappropriate content onto brand channels to effective age-gating.

They will also review the results of a survey, commissioned by Seal, into how the alcohol buying habits of consumers aged 18 to 25 are influenced by social media. For example, 79% of respondents to the survey of 1,000 Facebook users said they engage with alcohol brands across the social landscape. While Facebook dominates, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest were also mentioned.

Following the event, it is aimed to produce a practical guide for marketeers. You can join in Monday’s debate via Twitter and post questions to the panel using #bingingonsocial. It runs from 11.30am to 3pm.

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