Is it legal to advertise alcohol on social media
In the age of social media, smartphone users are frequently inundated with advertising material from manufacturers of all kinds of products, which generally does not provoke much controversy. However, there has been much recent controversy surrounding the advertising collaboration between celebrities and spirits brands.
The Alcohol Act and advertising reality
The advertising of alcohol, especially spirits, is one of the most controversial areas of promotion on the internet. Despite its apparent regulation by the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism (of 26 October 1982), this field has its own peculiarities, making the Act itself, in the current context, appear hollow.
Indeed, marketing campaigns with high-proof alcohol as the protagonist or hidden protagonist are being seen, with artists and influencers promoting such alcohol on their YouTube, Twitter, TikTok or Instagram channels, and even music videos and music tracks becoming vehicles for promotion.
However, this is not without opposition. Many internet users have expressed their concerns and are protesting against the promotion of harmful habits as can frequently be seen in the comments under posts promoting alcohol, with critical voices getting louder.
Moreover, this opposition does not end with simply negative comments – numerous cases based on Article 452 of the Alcohol Act were seen in both 2021 and 2022. Although the final decisions of the courts are not yet published, some high-profile cases have emerged with celebrities being fined for promoting alcohol such as vodka.
Alcohol advertising and promotion on the internet through the eyes of a lawyer
From a legal perspective, the rules on the promotion of alcohol are complicated. In accordance with the Act, alcohol advertising is the public dissemination of trademarks or graphic symbols of alcoholic beverages, as well as the names and graphic symbols of companies producing alcoholic beverages, not differing from the names and graphic symbols of alcoholic beverages, in order to promote alcoholic beverage trademarks.
However, information used for commercial purposes between companies involved in the production, wholesaling of and trading in alcoholic beverages is not considered advertising. There are also exceptions – for example, beer advertising is allowed in certain circumstances.
The devil is in the detail. Analysing the sparse case law it can be seen that the crucial thing for an advert to be deemed illegal is public dissemination, intended to promote the trademarks of alcoholic beverages.
The conclusion is simple – each case should be considered individually and assessed taking into account both the size of the intended audience and the manner of advertising. If the advertisement is openly addressed to an unlimited number of recipients and is intended to promote spirits, the company is running the risk of criminal liability.
The issue of alcohol promotion in social media is discussed by Mateusz Ostrowski and Bartłomiej Galos, who present the current situation, case law, and the consequences of careless promotion of alcohol products online.
Source: Business Insider/ Onet.pl