What will the ban of alcohol advertising mean for marketers?

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011
Carla Fourie, GetSmarter
There has been some discussion recently about the government's proposal to ban alcohol advertising. While it has been said that alcohol advertising will not be banned completely, the time and location of alcohol advertising will probably be regulated.
Alcohol product sponsorships will be banned completely – for instance, an alcohol brand sponsoring a sport event – as the government is worried about the misperception that such sponsorship may cause. This could mean that Castle Lager’s sponsorship of the Tri-Nation series will not be allowed in future or stricter regulations will be imposed on how the sponsorship is promoted.

Chris Moerdyk, a marketing analyst, conducted a study that suggests that a total ban of alcohol advertising could cost media companies as much as R1.8 billion a year in advertising revenue. If the South African government is going to regulate alcohol advertising, it could mean that alcohol marketers may no longer be allowed to use certain media, like television or billboards, to advertise their brands. Depending on the extent of the regulation, television advertising may still be allowed, but alcohol brands will be restricted on the times their ads are allowed to show, for example, not during programmes for young people. Countries like France, Kenya and India have already banned alcohol advertising on television and billboards.

According to the government, one of the motivating reasons to impose the alcohol advertising restrictions is to reduce the number of crimes that are committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, including road accidents. Whether or not banning alcohol advertising will have the effect that the government wants, marketers will need to become more creative in how they market their brands.

Radio, television and publication ads are not the only marketing channels available to the marketer. Depending on the restrictions that are imposed by the government, alcohol brands can still make use of other marketing channels like social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to name a few – blogging, or mobile marketing to promote their brands. Point-of-purchase displays and promotions in clubs and other liquor-selling venues are other possible marketing channels that can be used if billboard and television advertising is banned.

Many of the big alcohol umbrella brands have been involved in responsible drinking campaigns. SAB partnered with Arrive Alive to bring South Africa the “Reality Check” ads, while Brandhouse had a very controversial “Drive Dry” campaign. SAB's latest campaign to encourage responsible drinking is called “No Regret Friday”.

It will be interesting to see what type of restrictions the government will impose, as well as how alcohol marketers will overcome them to keep product sales up.

To learn more about marketing with Carla Fourie, consider the part-time University of Cape Town Marketing course, presented on 26 September 2011 online throughout South Africa. Call Emma on +27 (0)21 447 7565 or visit www.GetSmarter.co.za for more information.