Ask an Analyst - Alcoholic Beverage Advertising

Our answers pertain to the following:

  • Broadcast advertising under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages (CRTC Code)
  • Broadcast, print and out-of-home advertising under the Ontario AGCO Liquor Advertising Guidelines
  • Broadcast, print and out-of-home advertising in British Columbia under the CRTC Code

Question:

Can prices be mentioned in alcoholic beverage ads in Ontario?

Answer:

Yes. There is no prohibition in Ontario against stating drink prices in an ad for a product, a restaurant or a bar. However, Ontario does set minimum prices for alcoholic beverages and any price mentioned must comply with the AGCO Liquor Advertising Guidelines. Also, some indirect price references contravene various clauses of the CRTC Code: “Happy Hour,” for instance, ties happiness to the availability of alcohol, which contravenes Clause G. As well, a line like “Come in for cheap drinks” contravenes Clause K by using imperative language and Clause H by suggesting immoderate consumption which is defined in the CRTC Code as more than one serving of alcohol per person.

 

Question:

I heard that in Ontario you can’t show motorized vehicles in motion in an alcoholic beverage television commercial. Is this true?

Answer:

According to the AGCO Guidelines, you can show motorized vehicles in motion IF the commercial doesn’t show a drinking scenario e.g. people sitting on a patio with drinks; people at a bar; etc. However, as soon as you include a drinking scenario, then you can only depict forms of public transportation. You can, however, include a beauty shot of the product.

 

Question:

I’m an alcoholic beverage advertiser. I plan to run a television and radio campaign that includes a contest where I invite people to “Like” us on Facebook. I was wondering if I need to say “no purchase necessary”?

Answer:

In some cases you don’t have to say “no purchase necessary”. For example:

  • if the method to participate is clear (“Go to Facebook.com/HammerLager for your chance to win a trip to Puerto Rico”); AND
  • no product is shown in the ad; AND
  • there is no suggestion that you must purchase in order to qualify, such as: “look inside specially marked cases”; THEN you do not need to state “no purchase necessary”. However, you will still need to indicate that participation is limited to those of legal drinking age.

 

Question:

Can clean empty wine glasses be visible on a restaurant table where children are present?

Answer: 

Yes, clean empty wine glasses can be visible on a restaurant table when children are present in an advertisement. However, there can be NO signs of alcohol (including signage, taps, bottles, consumption scenarios, etc) and NO mention of the availability of alcohol at any point in the commercial when children are featured.

 

Question: 

Do I require clearance for YouTube videos for alcohol advertising? And where can find the general rules for internet advertising - same rules as broadcast?

Answer:

While compliance is mandatory, pre-clearance for web advertising is not. However, it is the responsibility of the advertiser to ensure that all their advertising complies with all alcohol advertising regulations in the province in which it will run. These regulations apply to all forms of alcohol advertising in that province, including web advertising. Ad Standards Clearance Services offers review services for non-broadcast advertising for the provinces of Ontario (AGCO Guidelines) and British Columbia (CRTC Code).

 

Question: 

Radio Question: Can the character sip an alcoholic beverage in a radio spot. ie from script..."and I don't know about you but I can really taste the difference (He Takes a Sip), Yep there's a hint of sweetness..."

Answer:

Clause Q of the CRTC Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages prohibits depicting alcohol consumption, or giving the impression visually or in sound that consumption is taking or has taken place. The CRTC Code applies to all broadcast alcohol advertising, i.e. TV and radio. It is therefore not permitted to hear someone take a sip, or to imply/say that a character has taken a sip, in a radio commercial for an alcoholic beverage.

More information about alcoholic beverage advertising clearance, including the Ad Standards Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Clearance Guide to the CRTC Code, is available in our Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Reference Library. We recommend submitting your scripts for review by Ad Standards Clearance Services before producing. For more information and to submit, please visit Ad Standards Preclearance.

 

Question: 

Hi, my company is an event producer in Alberta. We often gets sponsors for events and in some cases they are in part sponsored by a brand of alcohol or manufacturer (along with other partners). If we include their logo in a sponsor bar on TV do we fall into the Alcohol Beverage Advertising standards and all the rules pertaining to that category?

Answer:

When advertisements for events mention alcohol manufacturers, retailers and/or other licensees as sponsors, Ad Standards Clearance Services reviews them for compliance with the CRTC Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages; alcohol sponsorship is a form of alcohol advertising, and therefore, broadcast advertising mentioning alcohol sponsors must comply with the CRTC Code.

So long as the commercial message does no more promotion of the sponsors than mention their name, (audio, logo, etc.), our review of sponsorship ads is performed for a lower rate. You can reference our rate card and you can make your submission using the online submission form.

You can reference the CRTC Code and Ad Standards' Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Clearance Guide to the CRTC Code in our Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Reference Library

 

Ad Standards Disclaimer

Finally, there are a few important points to remember. First, Ad Standards' brief answers to your questions do not replace, and don’t carry the same weight as, Ad Standards' formal response to the advertising material you submit to us for approval. You must still submit advertisements for approval. To be safe, be sure to submit them to us before, not after, you’ve produced the advertising. Second, it’s not possible for Ad Standards to provide totally comprehensive and all-inclusive answers to your questions. What you’ll read here are specific answers from us to your specific questions. Even a slight change in the facts could alter our response. And third, it should be understood that our answers to your questions are intended to provide nothing more than guidance. In the same vein, Ad Standards disclaims liability for any errors, inconsistencies or omissions.

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