Banning Liquor Surrogate Advertising



Themes : Advertising and Promotion
Period : 1999-2002
Organization : Archies Greetings
Pub Date : 2002
Countries : India
Industry : Advertising

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Case Code : MKTG024
Case Length : 13 Pages
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Banning Liquor Surrogate Advertising | Case Study

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About Surrogate Brands Contd...

Some of the broadcasters said that because the I&B Ministry was taking a long time deciding about the use of socially responsible advertisements by liquor companies, they had started using them without the Ministry's consent. IBF's Executive Director, Bhuvan Lal, reportedly argued that there was nothing wrong with airing such advertisements because they did not violate the government's guidelines restricting the telecast of direct/indirect liquor ads.

The government's guidelines stated that 'advertisements which lead to sale, consumption and promotion of liquor should not be allowed.' According to Bhuvan Lal, these advertisements were perfectly legal as they did not lead to sale, consumption and promotion of liquor.

Soon, liquor companies that had not entered into any agreements with satellite channels for airing socially responsible and for surrogate advertisements started processing such agreements. For instance, Whyte & Mackay began negotiating agreements with various TV channels, including Star TV.

Amar Sinha, CEO, Whyte & Mackay, said, "As long as there was no ban, companies were not interested in showing liquor advertisements in the garb of social messages. But with the government imposing restrictions, social messages are a route to liquor advertising for many." By early 2002, there were many surrogate advertisements of liquor brands on satellite TV channels. These advertisements attracted a lot of criticism.

According to an analyst,7 "We see a brown liquid poured into a glass under a well-known brand name, and we are told the man is drinking apple juice! The girl who is avidly watching him immediately rewards him with a kiss. In the same sort of way, water, soda and other harmless liquors stand in for hard liquor and beat the ban." (Refer Exhibit IV and V for sample surrogate advertisements).

There were numerous other advertisements selling music cassettes, CDs, water, clothing, fashion accessories and sports goods - many of them accused of being sexually provocative and offensive. The I&B Ministry's decision to ban such advertisements was thus viewed as a logical and necessary step by their critics. As the authorities were finding it difficult to track down the increasing number of violations, especially at the regional level, the Ministry hired a private monitoring agency.

The agency - Time Monitoring (Delhi-based) - was responsible for scanning all advertisements on all private satellite channels including regional channels. At the same time, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), in a self-disciplinary move, asked all TV channels to stop telecasting surrogate liquor advertisements.

The Debate

The banning of surrogate advertisements for liquor brands became a very controversial and sensitive issue. Liquor producers felt that while the government allowed them to do business, it did not allow them to do so in a profitable manner. Liquor companies argued that the ban would severely affect the sales. The said that TV was the most effective medium of advertising for these products and thus the restriction would hamper brand building.

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7] Amita Mallik,