Distilled Spirits Industry Updates Advertising Guidelines Based on Newly-Released Census Data

Distillers Adopt 71.6% 21+ Demographic Placement Standard

May 26, 2011

The Distilled Spirits Council today increased the demographic placement standard in its Code of Responsible Advertising Practices to reflect the 2010 Census data released this morning showing that 71.6 percent of the U.S. population is 21 years of age and older.

"The Census is the most comprehensive, objective and reliable survey of the current demographics of the U.S. population. As such, it provides a sound, fact-based measure for making advertising placement decisions," said Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council. "In the spirit of our commitment to responsible advertising, effective today, this new demographic percentage will apply prospectively to all new purchases of advertising."

Under the new demographic guideline, beverage alcohol advertising and marketing should be placed in media only where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be above the legal purchase age (21+). The previous demographic standard was 70 percent 21+ which also was grounded in the 2000 Census data. (Click here for more information on the DISCUS Code)

Jodie Bernstein, former Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and Outside Advisor to the DISCUS Code Review Board, stated, "DISCUS members voluntarily adhere to a rigorous set of standards against which they are regularly measured. A Census-based demographic standard reflecting the percentage of the population age 21 years and older has been supported by the Federal Trade Commission as evidenced in its 2008 Report. The DISCUS Code is a living document that frequently is reviewed and revised to stay current with modern society and technology as demonstrated by the decision taken today."

A key recommendation of the FTC's 2008 Report was that the industry should review its placement standard when the results of the 2010 Census became available.