Is social media the new billboard for booze?

Billboards, booze and the footy season – you can now add social media into that dangerous mix.  Go to the second story down in the essentials column at   I’ll be interested in people’s views, as I know we have a communications person who works in the alcohol industry.   What amazes is the number of tweets posted in a six month period – 286!  They are obviously focusing on the social aspects of social marketing, and the best environment in which to spread the good news about the booze.

Is the use of alcohol in social marketing as acceptable as any other fast moving consumer good, or should there be special exceptions for a product, which if not used properly, can be lethal in a number of ways?  I’m expecting some fierce comments on this topic.  IanMc


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8 thoughts on “Is social media the new billboard for booze?

  1. Here comes the first fierce comment !!!! I note the article states figures that relate to the US. I’m not sure of the rules & regulations for alcohol marketing in the US so I won’t comment on that aspect. However, I know way too much about alcohol laws, regulations, guidelines, codes and industry self-regulatory codes in Australia.

    I’ll try to keep this brief so I don’t bore you to death. Australian liquor licensing laws relating to marketing of alcohol beverages are some of the most stringent in the world (outside of countries that forbid alcohol marketing). Firstly, alcohol is a legal product in this country and it is, for the most, enjoyed by responsible adults in a responsible manner. Second, alcohol producers & suppliers have a social responsibly (to society) to conduct marketing activities in a responsible manner. Producers & suppliers are not only held accountable by law and formal industry self-regulatory codes, they are also held accountable by peers.

    Social media has presented a whole new level of responsibly around marketing of alcohol. Firstly, age verification controls must be engaged where possible (eg websites & Facebook). UGC on sites must be continually monitored and if anything inappropriate is posted, it must be removed swiftly (within 24 hours). There are rules around photos that can be posted, rules around comments that can be made, rules around the types of promotions that can be run, rules around advertising, rules around sponsorships etc. The ‘rules’ for alcohol marketing in ATL, BTL, TTL and social media, go way above and beyond traditional FMCG categories.

    So should the use of alcohol in social marketing be acceptable as any other fast moving consumer good? Yes, it should. Speak to the majority of producers and they will tell you they not only meet laws & industry self-regulatory codes, the majority also have company codes that go way above and beyond to ensure the longevity and viability of the industry in this country.

    • Hi, that is a really comprehensive reply to what is obviously a complex issue, with an industry dealing with a range of probably tight regulations. It is interesting that it was pointed out that social media is introducing a whole new level of responsibility about the marketing of alcohol, and they sound pretty strict. I wonder if there is another industry with comparable regulations and rules when it comes to promoting a product to the market? Is alcohol in this instance just an easy whipping boy to show there is some control when it comes to using social media? IanMc

  2. I don’t see why social media marketing for booze shouldn’t be as acceptable as it is for say fast food like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger KIng, Dominos, etc, etc…these are arguably more deadly and more widely abused here and in the US.

    Further, I don’t really think Budweiser is doing anything different to McDonald’s who has over 1 million followers compared to Budweiser’s paltry 15,043.

    • Hi Sally – you do have a point. It was funny using the word ‘lethal’ in the blog, as it is such a judgemental word, and yet there are so many other things in our life which are ‘killers’ and you’ve listed some of them above. I was interested in finding out how prejudiced people are towards the alcohol industry, and how far their tolerance goes but so far, its been pretty quiet. IMc

  3. Alcohol is one of the most significant ‘fast moving consumer goods’ (FMCGs) marketed today. It is estimated that the global spend on advertising alcoholic beverages is approximating $1 trillion. each year. Alcohol marketing is prevalent in traditional media such as TV adverts and billboards and, increasingly, in new media such as online social networking sites, and also through sponsorships and point of sale promotions.

    There is much debate about alcohol marketing and the extent to which it should be controlled. Research shows that exposure of children and young people to alcohol marketing materials leads them to drink at an earlier age and to drink more than they otherwise would.[1] The World Health Organisation states: “the extent and breadth of commercial communications on alcohol and their impact, particularly on young people’s drinking, should not be underestimated”.[2]

    Alcohol advertising in social media should be subject to global control that seeks to prevent advertisers targeting and appealing to young people. The controls cover broadcast, print and online advertising and are a mix of global co-regulation and self-regulation. Current regulatory systems and codes of conduct have been criticised for failing to protect children and young people from exposure to alcohol marketing. Greater restrictions should be introduced forthwith.

    • Hi, the ‘global control’ for SM you mention could be very hard to implement, and now that SM has been around for a while, I think the manufacturers would resist strongly to have any further regulations or controls enforced on them.

      They probably feel there are enough regulations when it comes to paid advertising, although as you point out a lot of it already is self-regulation. The area of protecting children is a difficult one,and I think I can see both sides of the argument – where does parental control get subsumed by society’s obsession on consumption, and how much control do parents really have – especially over sneaky teenagers? IMc

  4. Yes, except social media may have slightly longer-lasting consequences! I have a friend who loves to go ‘drunk shopping’. She’s a great shopper … but still, I wouldn’t trust her with a Facebook or Twitter account while under the influence.

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