Zero alcohol product marketing – government to address issue 

  • Post category:News

June 1 2023: Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes comments reported in the media on 31 May 2023 from Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, that he regards alcohol companies advertising zero alcohol products  as ‘cynical’ and a way of circumventing alcohol advertising restrictions designed to protect children from pervasive alcohol marketing. 


AAI has been highlighting the issue of the proliferation of zero alcohol product advertising – which are almost identical to the full-strength parent brand, in areas which are restricted under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. These include on public transport, in areas close to youth-oriented facilities such as schools, parks, playgrounds, on the field of play during sporting events and in shops outside the designated alcohol zones. 

In every case, as the relevant section of the Act was introduced, there was a notable increase in the marketing of these products, with some particularly egregious placements, for example in some high-profile international rugby matches there are alcohol brand references occurring at a rate of up to 1 every 8 seconds on the sporting area. 

Alcohol Action Ireland believes that the current legislation as written, outlaws zero alcohol marketing as it display the name, logo and marketing images of full-strength products, therefore it indirectly – and arguably directly, promotes and alcohol product. 

For clarity the definition of advertising in the Act is: 

…any form of commercial communication with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting an alcohol product and includes, in relation to an alcohol product, every form of recommendation of the product to the public including— 

(a) (i) a statement of the name of a manufacturer or importer of an alcohol product, or the name of any brand of alcohol product, or 

(ii) a statement of any trade description or designation, or a display or other publication of a trademark, emblem, marketing image or logo, by reference to which the product is marketed or sold. 

 These 0.0 products make up around 1.5% of the alcohol market. However, the advertising of these products has now reached prolific levels – eg in 2022 a quarter of alcohol brand advertising in the ‘’out of home” advertising sector (billboards, bus shelters etc) was devoted to zero-alcohol products – up 31% on the previous year. Recent research from the University of Stirling has found an alcohol brand reference being viewed on the sports area up to every 8 seconds during some high-profile rugby matches in Ireland. A report from the Irish operation of the multinational media company, GroupM, noted that that the large increase in advertising of non-alcoholic variants was a ‘response to tightened advertising guidelines. 

AAI believes that the legislation as written is robust enough on this matter. Enforcing it would outlaw zero alcohol ads in the aforementioned areas designated as youth-friendly spaces under the Public Health Alcohol Act. As Minister Donnelly noted in his interview on May 31, if the current legislation is not strong enough, other options can be considered.

Read more about our campaign here.