• Posted by CERC India
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Surrogate liquor ads: Pulling wool over the eyes

It is a common practice among companies to advertise a product that is banned, by doing so indirectly.

According to Wikipedia, surrogate advertising is a form of advertising which is used to promote banned products, like alcohol or cigarettes, in the disguise of another product.

This type of advertising uses a product of a fairly close category, such as club soda or mineral water in the case of alcohol, or products of a completely different category (for example, music CDs or playing cards) to remind consumers of the brand name so that they associate it with the main product. Surrogate liquor advertisements do impact a consumer’s buying decision. For one, they inform consumers about the leading liquor brands and thus promote sales.

One example of surrogate liquor advertising is of Bacardi Music CDs by the company Bacardi India P. Ltd. Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received a complaint about the print ads of Bacardi Music CDs which frequently appear in The Times of India. The complainant wanted to know whether there is any relaxation in the stipulation that whatever is advertised should be 10% of the value turnover of the brand.

ASCI viewed the print advertisement and considered the advertiser’s response. The Advertiser did not provide the annual market sales data of the product/service advertised. ASCI concluded that the advertisement was a surrogate ad for a promotion of a liquor product – Bacardi Breezer. The advertisement contravened Chapter III.6 (a) (b) of the ASCI Code and the Guidelines for Brand Extension of product or service. The complaint was upheld.

Don’t drink to that!

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