December 4, 2023

An unprecedented collaboration that includes large retailers, business organisations, e-commerce players/digital platforms, and advertising companies have come together as the Global Standards Coalition, a grouping that’s been described as “groundbreaking”.

Led by the not-for-profit International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), the coalition’s aim is to accelerate reductions in harmful use of alcohol by driving home the message of drinking in moderation.

In the approach to Christmas, alcohol consumption rises and IARD has chosen this time to focus on promoting the Global Standards Coalition and getting its members’ views across to consumers. Those companies include very powerful retailers like Walmart and SPAR International, as well as media and messaging website owners such as Meta, as well as food and beverage (F&B) delivery giants like Uber Eats, and Deliveroo.

A powerful grouping

These players sit alongside a long list of leading global beer, wine, and spirits companies – either drinks multinationals or nationals – including AB InBev; Asahi; Bacardi; Beam Suntory; Brown-Forman; Carlsberg Group; Diageo; Heineken; Kirin; Moët Hennessy; Molson Coors; Pernod Ricard; William Grant & Sons; and The Coca-Cola Company which is an associate member.

Key IARD member companies
Key IARD member companies that are drinks producers.

In essence, the Global Standards Coalition, led by IARD, aims to create a positive movement that will drives global initiatives to reduce harmful drinking and promote moderation among those who want to drink.
The coalition is initially focusing on five measures to:

  • Prevent sales to anyone underage or intoxicated
  • Curb marketing and advertising to underage consumers
  • Provide training and guidance that empowers retail staff to deny sale, service, and delivery of alcohol where necessary
  • Respect the choices of those who choose not to drink alcohol
  • Elevate industry standards to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

As well as IARD members, the Global Standard Coalition signatories include Coles Liquor; Endeavour Group; Grupo Pão de Açúcar; Modeloramas; OXXO; Rede Condor; and Retail Alcohol Standards Group UK. These companies and organisations are all putting in place policies and practices to prevent the sale and marketing of alcohol to those underage, and are supporting employees and partners with resources to curb harmful drinking.

A recent example was in evidence on Friday last week in London when Pernod Ricard had serving staff bringing round trays of water only for attendees at the group’s annual press Christmas bash. The company’s alcoholic drinks were available from behind the bar, but the emphasis was very much on consuming responsibly.

Rival companies have also been active. Diageo released a video focused on moderate drinking (see above) which also promotes its no- and low-alcohol product lines. It focuses on some of the five pints above as well as drinking water and pausing for food.

‘Whole-of-society’ approach

Dolf van den Brink, CEO of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking and CEO of Heineken, said: “Even though our individual companies are different, we share the same values and are united in our mission to reduce harmful drinking and promote a culture of moderation among those who choose to drink. This is not just the right thing to do, but we believe it is also key for the future of our industry.”

Henry Ashworth, CEO and president of IARD, added: “We are proud to be leading this initiative and it will be pivotal in driving change in society through public and private partnership as part of a ‘whole-of-society’ approach.”

IARD is led by an alliance of drinks companies and more.

He added: “We invite other companies to join us to reduce harmful drinking. By harnessing our resources alongside those of policy makers, regulators, healthcare professionals, and societal leaders, we can accelerate positive downwards trends in underage drinking.”

In addition to the Global Standard Coalition signatories named above, the full list is a wide assortment and also includes Retail Drinks Australia; Savegnago Supermercados; SindRio; SuperBH; Choco; Flink; Glovo;; Jumia; JustEat; Mercado Libre; MiniBar; Reserve Bar; Rappi; TaDa; Tipple; Waysia; Whiskey Exchange; Snap; Dentsu; Hogarth; McCann; MHP; Publicis Groupe; Dutch Hospitality Association; JUBAM Bartender Council; UK Hospitality; the International Chamber of Commerce; The Alliance of Beverage Licensees; Coca-Cola Europacific Partners; Coca-Cola HBC; Breeders’ Cup; and the International Cricket Council.

Advertising industry lends support

A crucial group of companies are those in the advertising and marketing worlds and among those who are onboard include the World Federation of Advertising; ANFO Norwegian Advertisers; APAN; Cámara argentina de anunciantes; Association of Swiss Advertisers; Association of New Zealand Advertisers; Brazilian Association of Advertisers; Association of Advertisers in the Netherlands; Czech Association for Branded Products; Federation of European Data and Marketing; Hellenic Advertisers Association; ISBA; Japan Advertisers Association; Marketing Association of South Africa; Marketing Finland; Members of The Swedish Association of Advertisers; and Union des marques.


While not a signatory, Guy Parker, the president of the International Council for Ad Self-Regulation, was supportive and commented: “ICAS members have worked for decades to ensure responsible advertising for alcohol beverages through effective ad self-regulation in many countries. We applaud the IARD initiative and are committed to further supporting the industry in its efforts to advertise responsibly and to protect children, minors andwas vulnerable groups. We strongly believe that the goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol can best be achieved through strong partnerships and collaboration.”

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