Monday, July 20, 2009

Advertising Alcohol Online

A while ago I wrote a post about the online industry and how they complain about not being taken seriously. Well, this is, in my opinion, another example of why agencies and advertisers shouldn’t take online seriously. Advertising alcohol online.

Just went onto the Herald and was confronted with a nice big rectangle advertising Steinlager’s new brew Edge.

I’m not sure about this at all. Television very strongly regulates alcohol advertising. It can only go to air at certain times of the day, and dependant on ratecard spend on alcohol advertising, ALAC (and please someone correct me on this as this is based on what I think I know about the account) have a deal with the networks which gives them a percentage value of that airtime to counteract the alcohol advertising. There is a balance – alcohol brand and ALAC.

So my concern centres around the fact that not only can this alcohol advertising be seen ALL day on a national site (yes – I acknowledge the fact that it is in the business section and its not like kids visit the business section of the Herald on a daily basis, however the reason that I got to this article was a link on Twitter) but you can take the user brand experience to the next level by clicking on the ad.

The first screen you come up against is an ‘are you 18’ screen, but it’s not difficult to lie on this. What gets me however is the next screen you come to isn’t exactly what was detailed in the ad. The ad says “Find out more” at which point I would have expected to land on the “About Steinlager Edge” as below:

Instead, you land on a competition page (I thought there were rules about giving alcohol away as prizes?):

So we have an ad which is driving the user to slightly misrepresented content and a competition with only an ‘I promise I am over 18’ check box. I wouldn’t say that I am a total stick in the mud, but I do find this worrying. It was way too easy for me to get my hands on alcohol at a very young age, and I didn’t have the access to the Internet that kids to these days. No wonder we are a nation of binge drinkers (don’t get me wrong – totally guilty myself).

So my question is: Is there a similar deal with publishers and ALAC as there is with television?

There just seems to be a serious lack of self-regulation within the online advertising industry. I realize that it is still a young industry, but it would be great if someone would start drawing a line in the sand. I would have thought that this is something that the IAB could have done, but with an impending restructure announced today, and the departure of Grieg as a CEO, I hope that there will be someone/some people to steer the ship in the right direction and really start to take charge of how we can make this industry as great as it could possibly be.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads-up about the competition.


iChild said...

I don't understand the comment above. Which competition? Steinlager?

Colour me confused.

Anonymous said...

No, the Eurovision song contest. Of course the Steinlager contest.

iChild said...

Oh, snarky.

See, working in advertising, I read it as "thanks for a heads up about what the competition is up to".

I get it now. Good luck. Hope you win some Steinlager. Personally I think Steinlager is gross, and "Edge" screams 'Lemon Eyes' to me. Or at least the connotation that went with drinking Lemon Eyes.