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In Wake of NBC Hard-Liquor Retreat, Group Takes Aim at Beer and Wine

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which vigorously opposed NBC's plan to air hard-liquor ads, proposed a set of restrictions for all
Imagry from the MADD Web site
alcohol advertising similar to guidelines the network planned to use.

The advocacy group unveiled its plans on alcohol advertising and marketing practices at a news conference here today. MADD president-elect Wendy J. Hamilton said "time, place and manner restrictions" should apply to all alcohol ads, including existing beer and wine advertising, "to limit the exposure of underage viewers." The curbs would apply beyond just broadcast ads.

Should not appeal to youth
The proposed restrictions for all alcohol advertising would ban the use of actors under 30 and celebrities, cartoon characters, athletes, animals or other "language or images" that appeal to youth; the ads cannot appear in programming in which 90% of the audience is under 21. The

A Gallo wine promotion.
restrictions would apply to magazine as well as broadcast ads.

The group's proposals were in keeping with the spirit of NBC's guidelines to distilled spirits marketers. The network's rules said only programs where at least 85% of viewers are 21 or older would have the ads, and distilled spirits advertisers had run four months of "social responsibility" spots before starting regular product ads. Actors in the spots also had to be at least 29 years old.

MADD also called for matching alcohol ads with drinking responsibly messages, which are to be produced by the government or an independent agency.

The group said it makes "no distinction among various

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types of alcohol. A 12-ounce can of regular beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits contain the same amount of alcohol."

The 'bigger issue'
"Why didn't NBC apply its responsibility standards for liquor ads to the advertisements for other alcoholic beverages?," Ms. Hamilton said. "In MADD's opinion, that is the bigger issue."

Finally, despite NBC's decision, MADD also urged Congress to proceed with hearings on alcohol advertising.

The Beer Institute, which represents the nation's major brewers, said there was no need for the additional restrictions.

In a statement, Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute, said his group agrees with MADD that underage consumption of alcohol must be prevented, but that studies have indicated that advertising plays only a very minor role in determining whether underage teens drive.

He said the institute's advertising and marketing code provides sufficient advertising standards, and that self-regulation is preferred over government regulation because of First Amendment issues.

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