Mullins’ guide to advertising liquor promotions this festive season

As seen in the December / January 2020 Edition of the Queensland Bowler magazine. 

For many of us, the Christmas season is a time to celebrate with loved ones, often with a beer or wine in hand, so it was no surprise to me when I read a recent survey suggesting Australians’ average weekly alcohol intake triples over the Christmas period. No doubt many clubs will be looking to make the most of this time of year by promoting your club as the place for groups to meet – and drink – as the year draws to a close. So with that in mind, I thought it timely to recap the rules on advertising and promotion of alcohol.

Your obligations

The rules around promotion of liquor in Queensland are designed to minimise harm, maintain a safe environment for your patrons and staff, and to preserve peace and order in the neighbourhood around licensed premises. As a liquor licensee, you have a general obligation to practice and promote responsible drinking on your premises.

More specifically, licensed clubs must not advertise the following outside of the venue:

  • free liquor, or multiple quantities of liquor such as “two for one” deals;
  • the sale price of liquor for consumption on the premises; or
  • promotions offering discounted drinks such as “happy hour” or “all you can drink”.

These types of specials may be advertised within the premises, so long as the advertisement is not visible or audible outside of the premises, including on the venue’s website or social media pages. Clubs should be particularly mindful of this if their websites or social media are managed by third parties who may not be aware of the restrictions around what can and cannot be advertised outside the premises.

Exceptions – food and drink packages

Despite the general prohibition on advertising outside the premises for drinks specials available at your venue, licensees may advertise “meal and drink” packages in the following circumstances:

  1. A meal and one alcoholic drink up to 1.5 standard drinks;
  2. A meal for two and a standard bottle of wine or champagne, in which case the meal must be eaten in a designated dining area on the premises; or
  3. A package offering accommodation and a standard bottle of wine or champagne.

In such cases, the alcohol is considered secondary to the meal or accommodation. However, it is important that the meal be substantial enough to be considered a proper meal; a package offering appetisers or a plate from the tapas menu would not be sufficient. Moreover, care should be taken to ensure that any such promotion outside the premises does not hint at the possibility that other drinks specials may be available on the premises.

We regularly work with Bowls Clubs and other venues to create or assist with management plans addressing the advertising, service and promotion of alcohol at their premises. These management plans are a helpful tool to ensure that your staff and relevant contractors, such as promoters and website developers, all know the legal obligations that you must satisfy when advertising alcohol and meal and drinks packages. Similar to a Risk-Assessed Management Plan (RAMP), such management plans are kept on premises and given to all employees as part of their training.

If you require assistance to develop a management plan for your club, or if you have any other questions, then please do not hesitate to contact me on 07 3224 0353.

“The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.”
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