Alcohol Marketing through direct alcohol promotion is permitted in Sweden

On May 6, 2015 the Swedish Market Court tried whether a wine supplier was in breach of the Swedish Alcohol Act.
The wine supplier had been sending out letters, containing the promotion, that were covered by envelopes clearly indicating the commercial purpose. The purpose was to promote its selection of wine in the form of letters sent directly to Swedish consumers over the age of 25, without prior consent from the consumers.

Under the Alcohol Act advertising of alcohol is generally prohibited in Sweden and only special forms of advertising are permitted and must apply special moderation.

Alcohol advertising and other marketing measures must also not be insistent, intrusive or encourage the use of alcohol. Moreover, alcohol advertising must not target young people under the age of 25. According to the guidelines of the Swedish Consumer Agency, direct marketing is only allowed if the consumers, in advance, have requested such advertisement.

Nevertheless, the Swedish Market Court found that using direct marketing as such cannot constitute a breach of the Alcohol Act.

Conversely, in the assessment of the special moderation, it is necessary to find a balance between the traders’ interest of marketing alcohol and the consumers’ interest of receiving product information on one the hand, and the protection of the public health on the other hand. If alcohol marketing contributes to maintain or increase the intake of alcohol or to a positive attitude concerning the use of alcohol products, then the marketing may be incompatible with the interest of protection of public health.

In the end, the MD concluded that even though the challenged marketing was personal and written in a pleasant manner, it still found that the marketing did not breach the Alcohol Act concerning the requirement of special moderation.