Liquor companies concerned over surrogate ad ban

Large liquor makers such as United Breweries, Pernod Ricard, Radico Khaitan, and Bacardi are seeking clarification from the government on what constitutes ‘surrogate advertising,' and whether the recent crackdown would include ads with phrases like ‘responsible drinking' or 'don't drink and drive,' according to industry executives. Bacardi Weekender music events, Imperial Blue 'Men Will Be Men' CDs, Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, and Kingfisher packaged drinking water have all been utilised as advertising platforms to boost consumption of the beverages they produce.

"We are working with the government to clarify what constitutes surrogate advertising and what constitutes acceptable brand expansions. If there had been a blanket ban on all extensions with the same brand name as an alcoholic beverage, Kingfisher Airlines would not have been able to launch," said Vinod Giri, director general of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), which represents the Indian alcoholic beverage industry. "While we agree that commercials that are not for true brand extensions should be prohibited, genuine brand extensions must be tolerated."

Last Friday, the government issued rules to combat deceptive advertisements, banned all surrogate advertising, and established tough guidelines for companies who try to entice customers with discounts and freebies across all channels, including television and digital. The new standards also regulate marketing aimed at youngsters. The recommendations went into effect immediately after being announced by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

According to advertising industry insiders, the requirements demand clarity, without which the function of agencies representing major companies may be called into question.


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