Sip Shine promotes its Sip Shine Moonshine on various social media channels.  Recently, challenges to some of the company's posts were brought to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Code Review Board alleging that the posts violated the DISCUS Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing

The challenge raised questions both about the content of the posts as well as where Sip Shine chose to place the posts.  Here are some of the highlights of the decision, which should be instructive to all marketers of distilled spirits.  

Some of Sip Shine's social media posts showed consumers drinking directly from the (full-size) bottle. In the DISCUS Code, Responsible Content Provision B1 says, "Beverage alcohol advertising and marketing materials should portray beverage alcohol products and drinkers in a responsible manner and reflect generally accepted contemporary standards of good taste."  Here, DISCUS determined that the images of people drinking directly from a big bottle violated the Code.  DISCUS wrote, "the depiction of individuals consuming distilled spirits directly from the bottle does not portray these products and drinkers in a responsible manner or promote responsible consumption."

One of Sip Shine's posts also included a cartoon image from the Disney movie Luca.   Not surprisingly, DISCUS determined that this violated Responsible Content Provision C1, which says that advertising materials should not portray "objects, images, or cartoon figures that primarily appeal to persons below the legal purchase age."  

Another one of Sip Shine's posts showed a video of a man removing a bottle of spirits with his bare hands from inside a fire and drinking from the bottle.  Responsible Content Provision B3 says that, "Beverage alcohol advertising or marketing materials should not portray beverage alcohol being consumed by a person who is engaged in, or is about to engage in, any activity that is illegal or requires a high degree of alertness or physical coordination, such as driving a vehicle."  Here, DISCUS determined that video "highlights dangerous behavior that would require a high degree of alertness" in violation of the Code. 

Finally, the decision serves as an important reminder of the DISCUS media placement guidelines, which, at the time of the placement, required that 71.6% of the audience be reasonably expected to be at least 21 years of age or older.  When placing advertising on social media platforms, it's important for brands to confirm that the platform does, in fact, meet the applicable, current standard.