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    More Liquor Ads Pour Onto Broadcast TV



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    More Liquor Ads Pour Onto Broadcast TV

    Post by Admin on Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:04 pm

    February 9, 2009

    More Liquor Ads Pour Onto Broadcast TV
    By Stuart Elliott

    A scene from the Absolut vodka ad that was shown during the Grammy’s on some stations.
    Fifteen months after the flagship local station owned by NBC began running commercials for liquor, the local flagship of CBS is starting to accept them as well.

    Viewers in New York who watched the national CBS network’s coverage of the Grammy Awards on Sunday night on WCBS saw around 10:49 p.m. a new 30-second commercial for Absolut vodka, marketed by a division of Pernod Ricard. The spot, by TBWA/Chiat/Day in New York — part of the TBWA Worldwide unit of the Omnicom Group — is part of a campaign for Absolut that carries the theme “In an Absolut world.”

    In such a world, perhaps, liquor commercials would be carried by national broadcast networks as they are carried by a couple dozen national cable channels, hundreds of local broadcast stations and scores of regional and local cable systems. But for decades, the four biggest broadcasters — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — have refused to run spots for distilled spirits because, they say, such products have always been treated differently from the types of alcoholic beverages they will sell time to, mostly wine and beer.

    In December 2001, NBC, now part of the NBC Universal division of General Electric, tried to bring liquor commercials onto national broadcast programs by running spots for Smirnoff vodka during “Saturday Night Live.” The plan called for spots that promoted responsible drinking to be followed by product commercials, but widespread outcry against the concept led NBC to end the experiment in March 2002.

    The commercials on WNBC in New York, the NBC local flagship, began in November 2007 and have been limited to appearances after 11 p.m. The network said at the time that the decision to carry the spots, for brands like Bacardi rum and Grey Goose vodka, was made by the station.

    Likewise, CBS is saying that the decision to accept or decline the liquor commercials is being made by the executives at its local stations. The Absolut spot, called “Hugs,” ran after 10 p.m. on stations that in addition to WCBS in New York, included stations owned by CBS in cities like Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

    The spot also ran on stations affiliated with CBS, but not owned by the network, in cities that included Atlanta, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Tampa, Fla.

    All told, the commercial appeared in 15 markets, a large footprint for a spot running only on local stations and not on a network. The trade publications Brandweek and Mediaweek estimated in articles on their Web sites on Monday that the commercial reached 31 percent of all American households. Carat, part of the Aegis Group, is the media agency for Absolut.

    Critics of liquor commercials on TV say they do not want distillers to have access to what is arguably the most powerful advertising medium because so many youngsters can be reached through television.

    Indeed, a statement complaining about the Absolut spot from one advocacy organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, cited the young performers who appeared during the Grammy Awards broadcast, among them Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers. (Their appearances in the show came before the Absolut commercial ran.)

    “What’s next?” asked a news release sent to reporters on Monday. “Chivas Regal ads on ‘Hannah Montana’?”

    The Absolut commercial is going to be shown this week on local broadcast stations and national cable channels in seven markets, including Boston, Chicago and New York.

    The local stations include those that run national programs from the ABC, CW, Fox and NBC networks.

    The cable channels include many that have run liquor spots for the last several years, among them Comedy Central, E!, FX, Spike, TBS and USA.

    From 1948 to 1996, no TV station or network, local or national, accepted liquor ads even as other mainstream major media like newspapers, magazines and billboards took such ads from makers and marketers of distilled spirits. They adhered to a voluntary ban on TV advertising administered by an industry trade group called the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

    The council dropped the voluntary ban in November 1996, five months after a large member, Seagram, ran a commercial for Crown Royal Canadian whiskey on an ABC station in Corpus Christi, Tex. Liquor spots started appearing on local cable systems two years later, followed by national cable channels.

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