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Licensees have clear obligations under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 to serve alcohol responsibly. This page outlines guidelines and principles in relation to responsible alcohol advertising and promotions.
We have several resources available to assist licensees understand responsible advertising and promotion of liquor such as:
If licensees are unsure whether their current or proposed advertising or promotions complies with Victorian liquor laws, they may wish to obtain external advice.
The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) Scheme conducts a pre-vetting service (a paid service) that assesses proposed marketing communications, including product names and packaging, against the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code. This service may assist licensees in ensuring that proposed liquor advertising or promotions are responsible. For more information, see About the ABAC Pre-Vetting Service.
The advertising or promotion of liquor should not provide incentives that could lead to rapid or excessive drinking.
Drinking games, competitions, dares or challenges that involve rapid drinking.
The advertising or promotion of liquor should not encourage the stockpiling of drinks by the consumer for consumption at the licensed premises.
Promotions that encourage or reward the purchase of, or drinking of, large amounts of liquor in a single session or transaction.
The advertising or promotion of liquor should not involve the availability of non-standard sized drinks or the availability of liquor in receptacles that encourage rapid drinking.
Serving liquor in a yard glass for skolling. Pouring liquor straight into patrons' mouths (e.g. pouring liquor directly from a bottle or shooting liquor from a water pistol).
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not condone or encourage rapid or excessive drinking, drunkenness or anti-social behaviour.
Advertising or promotion of events that focus mainly on the excessive consumption of liquor (binge-drinking as part of end of sporting season celebrations such as 'Mad Monday', or end of school year celebrations such as 'Schoolies Week' or 'after parties').
The advertising or promotion of liquor involving 'happy hours', free drinks or discounted drinks must have reasonable limits and controls to minimise the risk of rapid, excessive or irresponsible drinking.
Promotions involving extreme discounts (e.g. $1 shots of spirits) or excessive periods of free drinks (e.g. $50 entry and free drinks all night).
Where limited free liquor is advertised or promoted as ancillary to a product or service, the advertising or promotion must not place the free liquor as the primary focus.
Advertising that focuses exclusively on free alcohol where there are other activities to promote.
Where the advertising or promotion involves the inclusion of unlimited liquor within the entry price, the advertising or promotion must be consistent with Responsible Service of Alcohol practices.
Advertising or promotions that explicitly focus on the 'all you can drink' element of the event by using terminology such as 'drink till you get smashed' or 'drink your money's worth'.
The advertising or promotion of liquor must avoid sexual, degrading, sexist or gratuitously offensive images, symbols, figures and innuendo.
Sexualised promotions that target women by offering free or reduced price alcohol combined with incentives to dress provocatively or remove their clothing (e.g. wet T-shirt competitions or $50 drink card for women who hang their underwear behind the bar).
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not be linked to sexual imagery or imply sexual success.
Using sexual images that depict gratuitous use of nudity to promote the supply of liquor or the conduct of licensed premises (e.g. using nudity to promote home delivery of liquor).
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not suggest any association with risk taking, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.
The use of images or messages associating the consumption of liquor with risky or dangerous activities (e.g. sky diving, motor racing, drink driving, speed boating).
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not portray people or depict material in a way that discriminates against, vilifies or is demeaning to any person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, age, sexual preference, religion, disability or political belief.
Advertising or promotions that use stereotyping to highlight racial differences or that make fun of personal characteristics such as disability.
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not suggest any association with, acceptance of, or allusion to, illicit drugs.
Using images, text or language that allude to drug-taking behaviour or using props, settings or scenarios that link the promotion of liquor to illicit drugs.
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not encourage breaking the law.
Linking the consumption of liquor to drink driving or to breaking the law.
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not encourage underage drinking.
Using characters, imagery, designs, motifs, interactive games, merchandise or media that are likely to appeal to minors.
The advertising or promotion of liquor must not incorporate images of people who are, or who appear to look under 18 years of age, unless there is no suggestion that they have just consumed, are consuming or are about to consume liquor.
Depicting models in settings primarily used by minors, even where the individuals used in the advertising or promotion are over 18 (e.g. schools, youth clubs).
The advertising or promotion of liquor should not be likely to place any group at risk of harm.
Promoting the availability of discounted liquor in ways that encourage excessive consumption by 'at risk' groups (e.g. window display promoting discounted liquor products with high alcohol content).
From 18 July 2018, licensees are prohibited from displaying or causing to be displayed, static alcohol advertising within 150 metres of the perimeter of a school. This includes:
Alcohol advertising means any information, term, expression, symbol or other thing that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes liquor.
There are certain exemptions to this ban. The prohibition on static alcohol advertising near schools does not apply where the advertising is:
Note: A two year transition period applies to advertising displayed under a contract entered into before 28 March 2018. This means that the static alcohol advertising prohibition does not apply to advertising displayed under an advertising contract entered into before 28 March 2018 for a period of two years from 28 March 2018. Any contracts entered into after 28 March 2018 will be subject to the prohibition.
Further information on this is available on the Alcohol advertising near schools page.
The VCGLR has the power to ban inappropriate advertising or promotions. This may also result in the VCGLR seeking to vary, suspend or cancel a liquor licence for failing to comply.
When using these powers, the VCGLR will take into account whether the promotion is likely to encourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol or is otherwise not in the public interest.
For an up-to-date example list of banned promotions, see Promotions banned by the VCGLR.