The Telegraph recently posted an article about how some companies such as Facebook and Google, the NBA and American television companies are relaxing their restrictions on alcohol advertising in order to generate new streams of revenue.
This is apparently a big deal although I fail to see why as long as they’re not misleading and they don’t market it to minors. Facebook tends to skew to an older crowd anyway although I’d wager it’s a pretty tight demographic (18-25?) that’s likely to install any applications offered by the likes of Anheuser-Busch or Bacardi.
Apparently, most of these apps offer allow users to win contests that get them into sponsored parties. I wouldn’t know because the Bacardi Mojito Party was unavailable to me (likely due to it being restricted to American users) and Miller’s Today I’m Toasting was under construction. In fact, none of the applications that have been developed were available which leads me to wonder if they’re specifically targeted at an American and not Canadian audience because we get to legally drink two years before they do?
The only application I’ve seen anyone use is Booze Mail, a particularly stupid bit of code that allows you to send drinks to your friend’s walls which is just as retarded as those gifts that get exchanged. Two apps I find much more appealing are Bottlenotes and RateBeer, both of which allow like-minded users to rate and talk about wine and beer they like (or dislike), respectively.
This doesn’t really help us Canadians, with our limited options for purchasing alcohol, and I’d be surprised the LCBO hasn’t jumped on this marketing opportunity except that I’d bet anything that they’re a) too cheap and b) far too old-fashioned. It’s too bad because an app that tracks new product releases with links built into their website allowing people to find what stores carry them and then contact those stores seems like a natural to me… Or maybe not but I don’t think I’m the only one who finds the LCBO website irritating.
But moving on, what about television? We’ve all seen our fair share of beer ads, ranging from stupid to offensive, but how is this regulated in Canada? The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a code that specifically deals with what can be broadcast and what cannot. Here are some highlights.
“Commercial messages for alcoholic beverages shall not:
(a) attempt to influence non-drinkers of any age to drink or to purchase alcoholic beverages;
(b) be directed at persons under the legal drinking age, associate any such product with youth or youth symbols, or portray persons under the legal drinking age or persons who could reasonably be mistaken for such persons in a context where any such product is being shown or promoted;
(e) attempt to establish the product as a status symbol, a necessity for the enjoyment of life or an escape from life’s problems, or attempt to establish that consumption of the product should take precedence over other activities;
(f) imply directly or indirectly that social acceptance, social status, personal success, or business or athletic achievement may be acquired, enhanced or reinforced through consumption of the product;
(g) imply directly or indirectly that the presence or consumption of alcohol is, in any way, essential to the enjoyment of an activity or an event;
(k) use imperative language to urge people to purchase or consume the product;
(n) contain inducements to prefer an alcoholic beverage because of its higher alcohol content;
(o) refer to the feeling and effect caused by alcohol consumption or show or convey the impression, by behaviour or comportment, that the people depicted in the message are under the influence of alcohol;
(q) contain scenes in which any such product is consumed, or that give the impression, visually or in sound, that it is being or has been consumed.”
Now, far be it from me to be a negative fuckin’ nancy but don’t they regularly break (e), (f), (g) and (q)? Doesn’t the Molson ad I just linked to fit the bill? How about this one? There are good ads out there. Arrogant Bastard Ale released this campaign that pretty much made fun of mainstream beer drinkers and companies they support that release “outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns.”
I don’t know about you but I’ll take that their brand of arrogance over what the other guys are offering any day; even if it treads dangerously into that extreme, stressed graphic style I find distasteful. At least it has some credibility.
We’re way past the days when Anheuser-Busch et al. could lay any claim to putting out a “premium product” and in a way, their advertising is a perfect example of that. They can’t really claim to have the best-tasting beer but they sure as hell can sex it up.
So what’s my point with all of this? I guess I’m saying that I’m in favor of allowing spirits advertisers back into mainstream media and I’d argue that having those ads play during prime time television and be printed in newspapers isn’t going to raise a nation of underage binge-drinkers.
No, we have the stupid neo-prohibitionistic notion that children must be protected at all costs from the dangers of alcohol to thank for that. These ads will bring in important revenue and if the product is good, I see no harm in it. However, I have one proviso and it’s a biggie.
The ads should deal directly with the quality of the product. They should make you want to drink it because, goddammit, it’s the best product of its kind and you’d be a fool not to. The ads can be funny, serious or clever as long as they’re honest. Maybe I’m asking too much but I don’t think so. I’d like to see both advertising and it’s retarded cousin, Facebook apps, up their game and start treating consumers with a little respect.
They can be the cooler, older brother if they want to.