Liquor companies play musical chairs with surrogate ads on TV

Mumbai: Liquor companies accused of indulging in surrogate advertising seem to be playing musical chairs as they move from one channel to another to evade the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry.

Sources in the government say as soon as the I&B ministry sends notices to broadcasters to withdraw their surrogate ads, they reappear on other channels. “Sometimes the products are also changed. As for instance, if the surrogate product was apple juice which was objected to, it is later changed to soda.”

The government, for now, seems to have no option but to keep sending out show cause notices to the television channels. The apex body for broadcasting companies, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), is taking a serious view of the matter.

In a recent meeting with members of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverages Companies (CIABC) and other liquor companies such as Seagram and Jagatjit Industries, IBF informed them that they must withdraw all surrogate ads and should adhere to the rules prescribed in the Advertising Code.

To some liquor company’s claims that the products advertised are genuine, IBF has asked the companies to produce certificates stating that the brand extensions are genuine.

Real products or services (non-alcoholic and non-tobacco), which are widely distributed in the market through established networks “should not be denied speech, even if the product or service shares a brand name with a liquor product or a tobacco product or a company,” state the regulations. But, “indirect advertising for liquor or tobacco will not be permissible.”