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27th July 2023

Portman Group updates guidance taking advice from top children’s marketing company

London, 26 July 2023: Following a report from renowned children’s marketing agency Kids Industries, the Portman Group – the alcohol social responsibility body and alcohol marketing self-regulator – has today updated its guidance on Code rule 3.2(h): Particular appeal to under-18s. The update also incorporates the very latest cases reviewed by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). The full Guidance can be read here, with a new Quick Read also published as a topline for marketers here.

At the request of the Portman Group and the Panel, Kids Industries has issued the report ‘Marketing that appeals to under 18s’ which reviews marketing techniques that are used to appeal to children and teenagers outside of the alcohol industry. The report, an update to previous training the Panel received in 2015,  provides an insight into four key areas; child development stages, trends in kids marketing, appealing to kids and, finally, considerations that may be useful in the context of alcohol marketing.

As part of the report, Kids Industries outlined six marketing techniques that are used to appeal to children and teenagers in FMCG marketing:

  1. Colour & clarity: Visuals gain the attention of young children – under the age of 7 – particularly bright colours.
  2. Character: Cartoon-like and approachable friendly characters on food packaging have strong appeal to children.
  3. Brand Licensing: Strongly connected to character is the power of brand licensing to drive children to want certain products.
  4. Name & Logo: Brand logos which embody a combination of simplicity, play, bright text, chunky font, high contrast or a thick outline attract children’s attention.
  5. Collectability: Collectables are frequently used by FMCG companies to attract children and drive repeat purchase.
  6. Flavour: Children have a genetic predisposition towards sugary / sweet and salty foods and flavours.

In 2022, 85% of complaints about alcohol marketing and packaging that the Portman Group received related to Code rule 3.2(h), with 29% of all advice requests also related to this area; more than any other category (Portman Group, December 2022). The updated guidance aims to help the alcohol industry market and package products in a way that does not have a particular appeal to under-18s.

In response to the updated guidance, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group said: “These insights are incredibly important to enhance understanding and application of the Code to ensure that we regulate effectively and protect under-18s from alcohol marketing. We have taken these learnings and updated our guidance on the Code rule, along with more recent decisions, and hope this will help the industry continue to market responsibly.”

Gary Pope, Co-founder and CEO of Kids Industries said: “What children see matters. They are idea and information sponges, and from an early age they are influenced by the world around them. As marketers it is essential to avoid accidentally appealing to under-18s and it is an exceptionally good sign to see that the regulator wants to have the latest insights and we have again been pleased to share our expertise with the Independent Complaints Panel to support their understanding of marketing tactics. We hope the work strengthens their understanding and blocks any overreach into encouraging kids to drink.”

Kids Industries is a specialist and award-winning research and marketing agency focused on the children’s and family market. They work with the largest brands in the world including Kellogg’s, McDonalds, Disney and the BBC, and they have supported the marketing of Bing, Bluey, Pokémon and Star Wars amongst many others.


For more information contact:

Joseph Meaden

Mobile: 07709 525 971

Notes to editors

  1. A spokesperson is available for interviews upon request.
  2. The Portman Group was formed in 1989. It is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body. It has over 160 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies.
  3. The Portman Group is funded by 17 member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Campari; C&C; Diageo GB; Edrington UK; Heineken UK; Mark Anthony Brands International; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors Beverage Company; Pernod Ricard UK; SHS Drinks; Thatchers’; and Treasury Wine Estates.
  4. The Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was first published in 1996. In 2021, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Code. The Code seeks to ensure that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable. The Code has helped create an industry that works effectively within the context of a self-regulatory model, while encouraging design, innovation and creativity. This has been done in an effective, responsive and inexpensive way.
  • Effectively – over 170 products have been amended or removed from the market. Many hundreds more have been helped to adhere to the Code before appearing on shelves through the support of the Advisory Service;
  • Responsively – there have been five updates to the Code over 25 years responding to changes in public attitudes and expanding its reach; all without recourse to Government or Parliamentary time;
  • Inexpensively – the leading members of the industry are currently funding the model for all to be protected at no cost to the public purse.

For more information contact:

Joseph Meaden

Mobile: 07709 525 971

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