BEER GROUP WARNS OF POSSIBLE AD RESTRICTIONS

Says Efforts by Hard-Liquor Marketers Will 'De-normalize' Brews

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.om) -- The president of a beer wholesalers organization warned his members about efforts by distilled spirits groups to treat all alcohol advertising the same.

David K. Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, speaking today in Washington at his group's legislative conference, said efforts by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. and alcohol critics to create ad restrictions and a single ad code for all alcohol products are "about the de-normalization of our product."

"There are some people in our industry that think if we they can't be on [network TV], we [the beer industry] shouldn't be on" either, Mr. Rehr said.

Fight the suggestion
Mr. Rehr and Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute, advised wholesalers to fight the suggestions and say there is a big difference between drinking beer in a ballpark and drinking martinis.

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The warning comes almost a month after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which vigorously opposed NBC's plan to air hard-liquor ads, proposed a set of restrictions for all alcohol advertising similar to guidelines the network planned to use.

Advertising standards
At the time, Mr. Becker said the Beer Institute's advertising and marketing code provides sufficient advertising standards.

NBC had planned to air hard-liquor ads until it reversed it decision following congressional pressure. In December, the General Electric unit had broken woith industry practice to accept advertising from Diageo's Smirnoff vodka brand.

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