Review of the Alcohol Sponsorship Guidlines for Scotland

The review evaluated knowledge of, and compliance with, the Alcohol Sponsorhsip Guidelines for Scotland, with a focus on identifying best practice and examining whether there is a need to enhance and improve the Guidelines to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

Appendix C - Phase Three Topic Guide

  • Introduce self and Ipsos MORI
  • Explain purpose of research: Ipsos MORI is conducting a review of the Alcohol Sponsorship Guidelines for Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership. The first phase of the research involved asking industry representatives in Scotland to complete a form recording their main sponsorship activities in Scotland and also a questionnaire focusing on their awareness and perceptions of the Guidelines. We then conducted some interviews with industry representatives and other external stakeholders to explore awareness and perceptions in more detail. The purpose of this group discussion today is to outline what we've found regarding ways in which the Guidelines might be changed or enhanced to ensure they are fit for purpose and to get your views on these findings. I'd like to stress that there are no right or wrong answers - we are just interested in getting any views you do have.
  • Explain the group should last around 1 hour
  • Emphasise confidentiality and anonymity
  • Obtain permission to record


In general, industry representatives and rights-holders are supportive of the general principle of having alcohol sponsorship guidelines for Scotland and feel that the Guidelines are effective in their current form. Additionally, there were no major issues raised with regard to self-reported compliance. However, the research did identify issues around awareness of the Guidelines and there were some suggestions and ideas to enhance some of the core principles.

In this discussion we will consider all aspects of the current guidelines and ask you a range of questions about how they may be improved

The core principles, sampling and responsible drinking messages

  • SHOW SLIDE 1: While there was broad support for this principle, some participants questioned the meaning of "recognisable commitment" and "community/diversionary activities".
    • How do you feel about these terms - are they ambiguous?
    • IF YES: How do you feel these terminology issues could be addressed in the Guidelines.
  • SHOW SLIDE 2: Again, there was broad support for these principles but a few participants made suggestions for how they might be developed:
    • firstly it was noted that while a particular event might appeal to over 18s, a particular event participant/team member might appeal to under 18s. Is this something that you feel should be addressed in the Guidelines? IF YES: Why and how? IF NO: Why not?
    • Secondly, it was suggested that the age threshold in the first two of these principles could be raised to 21 or 25. Would you support this? Why/not?
  • SHOW SLIDE 3: We found that people are using a range of approaches to checking event demographics and that some of these approaches are more robust than others. With this in mind, do you think this principle needs to be developed at all? IF YES: How? PROBE FOR:
    • views around inclusion of good/poor practice examples
    • whether target should be higher or lower than 75% and why
  • SHOW SLIDE 4: A suggestion here was that under 18s should be allowed to enter such competitions but not served alcohol? Would you support or oppose this? Why/not?
  • SHOW SLIDE 5: This principle was supported as far as it goes but there was some discussion of the problem of children buying adult sized replica shirts. Is this something that you feel should be addressed in the Guidelines - or indeed elsewhere? IF YES: How could the issue be managed?
  • On a related issue, there was reference to the problem of alcohol-associated branding being used on Children's replica shirts e.g. John Crabbies branding on children's Hibs shirts. Is this something that you feel should be addressed in the Guidelines? Why/not?
  • The final core principle related to standards of good practice contained in the Social Responsibility Standards for the Production and Sale of Alcoholic Drinks: Scotland Guide. Is this something that you feel is necessary as part of the Guidelines? Why/not.


  • SHOW SLIDE 6: Some questioned whether it was necessary for all of these points to be included as they are effectively covered by licensing legislation. Do you agree with this? Why/not?
  • It was suggested that a Challenge 25 rather than Challenge 21 principle should apply in respect of sampling. Would you support this? Why/not? Should there be a specific core principle within the Guidelines about challenging people's age, irrespective of the threshold.
  • There was also some suggestion that the provision of water and snacks should be mandatory? Again, is this something you would support? Why/not?
  • SHOW SLIDE 7: There was reference to the fact that the focus here is on print or paper based point of sale communications and suggestion that the guidance should cover online communications too. Do you agree with this? Why/not?
  • Another area of discussion was whether responsible drinking messages should be standard or brand-specific. There was a view among some that much messaging has become wallpaper and that allowing flexibility in message development will allow for more relevant messaging that is more successful in influencing behaviour. Which approach to messaging do you favour? Why?

Other possible change/additions to the guidelines

EXPLAIN: In addition to commenting on the specific principles and guidelines included in the Guidelines document, participants made additional suggestions as to how the guidelines might be enhanced or developed and we'd like to get your views on these too.

  • Firstly, there was a suggestion that the Guidelines should include more reference to relevant legislation and other guidance - for example, the Portman Group code - and how the various documents inter-relate. Is this something that you would support? Why/not?
  • Second, there was an appetite among industry representatives and rights holders for more awareness raising and/or training on the Guidelines.
    • Do you agree with this? Why/not? PROBE FOR whether some form of awareness raising or more formal training is required?
      • IF AWARENESS RAISING: How do you feel this could best be done
      • IF TRAINING: Do you feel that there should be reference to training in the Guidelines - including who specifically within an organisation should be trained? How do you feel training could best be provided? PROBE FOR level of interest in: an online toolkit; in person training sessions; other forms of training
    • There was also support for more sharing of best practice in respect of the Guidelines. Again, is this something that you would welcome? Why why/not? How could best practice be disseminated?
  • It was suggested that consideration should be given to including a clause in the Guidelines forbidding, in any communications relating to the sponsorship, the use of images of people who are, or who look under 25 years old.
    • Do you agree with this? Why/not?
  • It was suggested that the Guidelines should cover all events serving and selling alcohol, not just those sponsored by alcohol companies.
    • Do you agree with this? Why/not?
  • We found that people liked the fact that there Guidelines weren't too prescriptive but a few of them did feel it would be useful if there were standard clauses to insert into sponsorship agreement that would specify which compliance activities would be undertaken and who would be responsible for these. Would you support this? IF YES: What specific type of clauses would be helpful.

Closing discussion

  • At the moment the Guidelines are voluntary. Do you think this is appropriate, or do you think the industry should undertake some sort of self regulatory approach to compliance? Why/not?
  • The Portman Group is currently consulting on whether they should produce sponsorship guidelines for the UK as a whole.
    • Do you think there is benefit in having guidelines that apply UK-wide? Why/not?
    • IF YES: How do you think SGAIP could influence the development of these Guidelines if the Portman Group decides to produce Guidelines


Email: Iain MacAllister

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