Alcohol or Music CDs?


Why you do not see liquor or tobacco advertise their products in public?


Clocking up approximately a combined 100 billion rupees the alcohol and tobacco industries in India, contribute massively towards the economy of the country. Their products are historically important and are being used for nearly two centuries or more. These companies and their products have surely put their stamp In the Indian consumer market and still see a steady growth in the users of the aforementioned goods.

But, in the modern scenario, the advent of internet and broadcasting has made the market a very open game and has given major importance to the aspect of marketing or to be precise advertising.

Advertising has to a large extent remained rather not majorly influenced by laws and to put it in a simpler manner, there is freedom for many brands in their way of marketing.

But what is to be noted is that not all industries have the chance to advertise their products in the public. The most notable ones being the alcohol and tobacco companies. From the period where the importance of television advertising became a great importance, the laws in the country have made sure that there is minimal advertisements of say, tobacco paan or alcoholic beverages put out to the public directly.

The governing laws

Advertising alcoholic beverages has been banned in India as per the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which came into effect on 8 September 2000. Private channels often permit alcohol companies to advertise using surrogate means, such as selling the brand name for soda or water or music.

On similar lines there are laws that prevent the advertising of tobacco products as well, according to clause 6 of the ASCI Code, tobacco products, alcohol and gambling are prohibited from being advertised. Advertisements for these products are made indirectly sometimes by purporting to be advertisements for other products. Indirect advertisement for these products and services is prohibited.

Further, the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act prohibits advertisement of such products per se.

The reason behind the bans

Scientific research, health organizations and colleges have, throughout the decades, had the option to show a relationship between liquor refreshment publicizing and liquor utilization, particularly among at first non-drinking youth. In any case, there is a similarly noteworthy assortment of examination setting that liquor publicizing doesn’t cause higher utilization and rather simply reflects more prominent open interest, with numerous analysts recommending that powerful liquor battles just increment a maker’s piece of the overall industry and furthermore brand reliability.

The liquor business has attempted to effectively misdirect people in general about the danger of malignant growth because of liquor consumption, in expansion to crusading to expel laws that require mixed drinks to have disease notice marks.

The ban was enforced after extensive research from the Indian Ministry of Health found that cigarettes and liquor have adverse effects on a person’s health. In addition to this, the Indian government holds the notion that these products are especially harmful to a person’s mental health, making them lazy and unmotivated. The combination of these factors lead to an eventual ban on advertising of these products throughout its media channels.

The alternatives?

We have now established that products of alcohol or tobacco properties cannot be publicly advertised.

the negative point of view toward promoting these items can be followed back to 1975, when the Indian government presented the Cigarette advertising act, constraining tobacco organizations to show health alerts on the bundling and commercials for cigarettes. The Indian government and well-being service kept on pushing for more grounded limitation of the promoting of tobacco and alcohol until its possible complete boycott in 1995. In any case, the expansion in populace saw the deals of tobacco and alcohol increment at an exponential rate. Consequently, organizations had to look for elective methods for publicizing.

Now, this does not mean that those brands cannot market their products through other means. This innovative method of marketing is known as surrogate advertising.

Surrogate advertising is a form of advertising which is used to promote banned products, like cigarettes and alcohol, in the disguise of another product. This type of advertising uses a product of a fairly close category, as: club soda, mineral water in case of alcohol, or products of a completely different category (for example, music CD’s or playing cards) to hammer the brand name into the heads of consumers. The banned product (alcohol or cigarettes) may not be projected directly to consumers but rather masked under another product under the same brand name, so that whenever there is mention of that brand, people start associating it with its main product (the alcohol or cigarette). In India there is many companies doing surrogate advertising, from Bacardi Blast music CD’s, Bagpiper Club Soda to Officers Choice playing cards.

Many of the affected brands also bank on publicizing their products through sports campaigns and partnerships with other sporting teams or organizations.

Take NASCAR for example, One major example of this was the Busch Series (now known as the Xfinity Series), sponsored by a brand of beer sold by Anheuser-Busch. That sponsorship, which started in the series’ conversion from a national Late Model Sportsman races around the country to the present touring format in 1982, ended after 2007.

Similarly one of the most notable tobacco brands, Marlboro was seen partnering with many prominent Formula 1 cars as well. Its iconic name was a mainstay in the liveries of the famous Mclaren and Ferrari F1 cars throughout the decades until most recently they were told to use surrogate advertising as well.


We can now clearly understand as to why that industries worth billions of rupees cannot directly advertise to the general public about their products. Reasons such as a rise in underage drinking and the rise in lung cancer deaths played a major role towards the government implementing laws that banned their advertising.

But, as the saying goes, ‘’necessity is the mother of invention’’, many of these companies sought their way into the advertising sphere through surrogate advertising. One of the most praised advertisements is that of the alcohol company ‘Carlsberg’ who showcased their products as one of the best drinks glasses in the world.

Thus, these are the reasons as to why there are no advertisements directly marketing tobacco and liquor products.

Author: Tarun S,
IFIM law School, 1st Year

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