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Distillers Push For More Broadcast Ads

Distillers Push For More Broadcast Ads

About two weeks after NBC -TV backed off on its plan to air hard liquor ads, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is stepping up its efforts to get broadcasters to air the ads. DISCUS is exhibiting at the NAB show in Las Vegas next week (booth L-13763) as it did last year. The most often heard comment from a broadcaster about running liquor ads: “I thought it was illegal.”
That’s the mindset DISCUS wants to change. Since 1996, more than 2,000 radio stations have aired liquor ads in 250 markets according to the trade group. Several of the major radio groups have either run such ads, or are interested, said the group, with Westwood One and Infinity the latest to discuss ad campaigns with distillers.
With the dot-com bust, revenue radio gets from the Internet industry has shriveled while liquor could be a strong radio ad category this year, RAB President Gary Fries predicted earlier this year.
DISCUS President Peter Cressy said afternoon drive radio spots have proved effective for major liquor brands.
While the distillers are on radio, cable, and some local TV stations they want the exposure of network TV, believing that will help regain market share lost to beer and wine brands. Between 1980 to 2000, beer had about 58% of the alcoholic beverage market, while wine went from about 10.5% to 12.5%. During the same period, distillers saw their market share drop from about 36% to 28%.
“By not being on national TV we face the perception that liquor is ‘harder’ than beer or wine,” said Cressy.
He said he’s prepared to talk to his beer and wine counterparts and discuss self-regulated standard to get responsible ads on the air for all alcoholic beverages.
In the past, the beer and wine industry have resisted such efforts for fear of facing more stringent ad restrictions than the ones they already impose on themselves voluntarily. Of the more than $900 million dollars the beer industry spent on advertising in 2000, more than $785 million went to TV and radio stations, according to Competitive Media. Roughly $700 million went to TV and the rest to radio. Of the just over $135 million the wine industry devoted to advertising in 2000, nearly $83 million went to broadcasters.
By contrast, distilled spirit makers spent roughly $25 million ($20 million TV and $4.1 million radio) in 2000 out of a total ad budget of $377 million.
NBC said it dropped the idea of airing the ads because of political pressure from Congress and public interest groups, though no hearings were planned on the issue.
“We will continue to let people know liquor ads are responsible, tasteful and legal. There’s money to be made,” said Cressy.