Alcohol marketing in Denmark is regulated by self-regulation (the Alcohol Marketing Board), but also by the Law of Marketing (the Consumer Ombudsman). The latter regulation has sanctions attached to it, and therefore is the most interesting for us. From years of monitoring, we know that discotheques target the pupils of the Danish youth education centers – and persons below 18 years in general with alcohol advertisement. Therefore, we made a complaint guide for the high schools. It did not work out. Earlier we made a complaint guide for the police. I did not work out either.
So instead we reversed the process, and now we inform the police about illegal alcohol marketing – preferable before the actual event is held, so the local police can contact the discotheque in advance. We have made an avatar on Facebook and monitor about 100 discotheques. We monitor at special marketing occasions during the year– always before school holidays (both primary and high school), at the beginning and end of the school year, the last day of school in summer, around the reading period, and around student graduation. We monitor around May and September, where beer runs are held. We also monitor the famous intro-party for high schools in the nature resort of Copenhagen, Dyrehaven.
Often the police are not interested in the discotheques marketing of alcohol but focus on serving. Still, we often succeed in convincing them that there is a link between marketing and serving. Our mantra is that alcohol and minors should not appear in the same advertisement, and that confusing drinking age limits in the marketing, eventually leads to confusing age limits in real life.
The Consumer Ombudsman
Complaints about non-actual events in the discotheques go directly to the Consumer Ombudsman. For years the Consumer Ombudsman referred almost all complaints about alcohol marketing to the Alcohol Marketing Board. But with a new person in the seat, things have changed, and complaints about alcohol marketing are being processed now. There are limitations, though: only complaints about minors and alcohol fits within the scope of the Law of Marketing.
The public and the professionals
We have experienced that private persons and municipalities has contacted us with alerts about minors and alcohol in discotheque advertisement (it is easy – all we need is a link). They have contacted us either through a complaint-form on the Alcohol and Society website, or through the Messenger on our Facebook.
We are working on getting reporting from social workers and the new Parents Network.
From our last report (2017) we have filed complaints about 15 discotheques, and in 2018 we found so far another 9 discotheques through monitoring and public reporting. We have alerted the police about 10 discotheques in connection with our latest report, and about another 3 discotheques in connection with our monitoring so far in 2018.
Copenhagen, April 2018
Alkohol & Samfund