Let’s Ban Liquor Advertising


“Let the South African Government ban alcohol advertising.” Okay, take a deep breath and let it all out. Curse the stupidity of this. Bemoan the,ANC’s undemocratic Nanny State ambitions. Quote international studies stating that making alcohol advertisements illegal does not cure a nation’s collective drinking problem and social ills.

Come on, throw another finger at Jacob Zuma, and let it all out.

Now cool down, and if you are involved in the South African wine industry, ask if the banning of alcohol advertising could not be a good thing.

Compared to beer, spirits and coolers, wine advertising makes up a fraction of the entire annual liquor adspend in South Africa. Outside of Distell, DGB and Van Loveren, there is hardly a wine brand forking out more than R2m a year on advertising and promotion, a figure that does not make a blip on the radar screen of beer and spirits marketing budgets. Hence the fact that local wine consumption has taken a nosedive over the past 10 years: more and aggressive advertising by other beverages have attracted the thirst of the South African throat more successfully than wine.

So despite valiant efforts by wine brands such as Nederburg, JC le Roux and Boschendal, media advertising space is today dominated by big budget players selling beer, Scotch and Irish, Jack Daniel’s, cider, etc.

To put it bluntly, were liquor adverts to be banned, wine would not have as much to lose as these big players with their hundreds of millions marketing budgets.

And so we get ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ possibly – to a nation whose media is devoid of alcohol advertisements, all those Castle and Jack Daniel’s billboards replaced by creative work promoting yoghurt, lightly carbonated mineral water and orange squash.

In this sanitised media environment, however, wine has the edge. Due to the nature of the product, wine has over the past forty years convinced media to allow it to get a grip on an amount of precious unpaid-for editorial space.

Magazines and newspaper supplements write colour lifestyle pieces on wine and food pairings and evocative wine-tastings trips through organic vineyards on horseback. Wine columns opining product, style and taste appear weekly in free editorial space as they give good copy.

Last time I looked there was not a weekly beer or spirits column in the Sunday Times, Cape Times or City Press, to name a few.

So were the media world forced to drop alcohol advertising, wine’s presence would still be there in an editorial guise and as a far greater force than that of other liquor products. I can already see a Johnnie Walker brand manager quaking in his khaki kilt.

And then the digital world has not even been mentioned. Blogs, facebook, twitter is rampant with individuals passionate enough to spend hours each day communicating about wine, because the diverse and unique nature of wine makes it possible for a mere mortal to do this without going off his or her rocker.

Sure, once booze advertisements are banned the spirits, beer and cider folk will climb on the bandwagon riding through webspace. But I don’t know whether the exciting world of cider and triple distilled vodka is going to deliver a Neil Pendock, Cathy Marston or Anel Grobler who is able to enthuse about their specific product on a daily basis.

Gloves off, fair fight without massive advertising budgets, wine will kick serious butt.

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Ban Liquor Advertising

  1. Did you hear the conspiracy theory advanced by Mikel Fridjorn to John Maytham on the draadloos? Distell wants advertising banned as their brands are already well established and it will hurt start-up wannabe Nederburgs! How’s that for bow-ties baffels brains logic?

    Let’s hope alcohol advertising is banned and then we won’t hear as much rubbish from Mr. “Mellifulous” Maytham and his kind.

  2. Nay Norman, there have never been cigarette columns in the press, nor tourism routes offering cigarette-and-food tastings. Long live wine editorial!

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