Barred from print and TV, booze ads thrive on social media

This is particularly problematic since it might encourage those under the legal drinking age to take up alcohol.

Published: 15th April 2019 09:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2019 09:56 AM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: With laws banning advertisements of alcohol not defined vis-a-vis social media, liquor companies have been taking advantage of the same and explicitly boosting their publicity on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For instance, an Instagram page called ‘White Owl Brewery’ published an advertisement — an image of man holding a dark bottle with a red label that said ‘Diablo’. In his other hand was a glass with a dark beverage in it. The caption read: “A bird in hand is worth two in the fridge!” and among the hashtags were #beer and #pintsizedsilly.

White Owl Beer, which describes itself as an “award-winning, locally-handcrafted beer” on its Instagram page, has a supposed disclaimer: “Follow us only if you’re above legal drinking age.” 
Needless to say, there is no full-proof mechanism to gauge one’s age, as anyone can create a social media account with a fake birthday.

This is particularly problematic since it might encourage those under the legal drinking age to take up alcohol. It is for this very reason that there are stringent laws against advertising alcohol in print and on TV. 
No company can advertise booze, so most resort to surrogate ads — for instance, McDowell’s advertises packaged drinking water and Carlsberg has commercials in which it advertises soda.
However, these laws haven’t been amended for the last 40-50 years, and with the advent of technology, there is a huge grey area when it comes to advertisements on social media. 
Malik Sumrani, who worked as an assistant manager-social media for Aspi Spirits, explains that the rules for Facebook are different from those for other platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

On Facebook, “One cannot use bottle shots and also alcohol terms like whisky, rum, vodka”, while other platforms like Twitter and Instagram offer much more freedom, he said. 
“Brands become easily traceable, and at the same time, the leeway in writing copy and adding images is much higher. They are more accommodating and accepting when compared to Facebook,” he explained.


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