REP. KENNEDY HITS ALCOHOL ADS;PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS WOULD BE TOUGHER THAN FDA'S PLANS FOR CIGS

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U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D., Mass.) this week will propose legislation that would put stringent restrictions on alcohol advertising, Advertising Age has learned.

The proposal comes nine months after the Food & Drug Administration proposed a series of tough limits on tobacco advertising and seems to confirm ad groups' fears that such restrictions could spread to other categories.

Rep. Kennedy, a past critic of alcohol advertising, is trying to not only extend all the proposed FDA tobacco restrictions to alcohol, but also add a host of new curbs that would apply only to alcohol.

A RANGE OF RESTRICTIONS

A draft summary of his "comprehensive alcohol policy bill," obtained by Ad Age, proposes:

Eliminating all tax deductions for alcohol beverage advertising.

Banning sponsorship or support of any athletic, musical, cultural or social events at colleges by any alcoholic beverage company or group of such companies.

Limiting college newspaper alcohol advertising to no more than price and product information.

Limiting alcohol ads on TV between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. to product-only shots with voice-overs.

Requiring warning messages on all alcohol ads.

Those limits would be in addition to a ban on alcohol outdoor boards within 1,000 feet of a school or playground and limits on magazine ads that are in some ways stricter than those the FDA proposed for tobacco.

While the FDA proposal limited tobacco ads to b&w text in titles with 15% of readers under age 18, Rep. Kennedy's proposal extends that limit for alcohol ads to titles with 15% of readers under 21.

The bill also would require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to annually identify characters and promotional materials from alcoholic beverage marketers that reach those under 21.

Rep. Kennedy declined comment pending a news conference set for May 16.

AD GROUPS' RESPONSE

Ad and marketing groups, however, were quick to criticize the plan even as they noted Rep. Kennedy's introduction of the bill late in the legislative session appears to leave insufficient time for real consideration of it this year.

"It's like the King Kong of the anti-alcohol advertisement," said Hal Shoup, executive director of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. "It's almost unbelievable. It's got everything in there he can get."

Mr. Shoup noted that Rep. Kennedy has offered legislation on warning messages before.

`STIRS UP COALS'

"This is not an answer to alcohol abuse. It stirs up the coals over an issue that has been laid to rest. It's being done for publicity and news value," he said.

Jeff Becker, VP-alcohol issues for the Beer Institute, said:

"It makes sense for [Rep. Kennedy] in that he is trying to ride on the heels of tobacco, but not only is there a sufficient difference in the product categories but in the way they are used.

"It is obvious to those who look at this," he added, "it is too late to hold hearings, and you have to wonder why he would do it when we know this is an ill-conceived approach rejected time and time again by Congress."

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