Prime-time beer ban

Russian legislature keeps alive measures to severely restrict beer advertising

Sept 16, 2002 - The Russian legislature has voted to crack down on beer advertising, including prohibiting the use of images of people or animals and banning television commercials altogether between 5 and 10 p.m. Ignoring Kremlin opposition, the State Duma passed amendments to the law on advertising in the crucial second reading by a margin of 231 to 24.


The measure must still pass a third reading, then be sign into law by President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to the blanket ban on prime-time television, the amendments would also prohibit brewers from targeting teenagers and using famous people in their TV and radio campaigns. They would also make it illegal for an ad to suggest that beer can help people raise their social status, improve their physical or emotional condition, or quench thirst.

Industry players and analysts say that the amendments become law, it would deal a serious blow to two of Russia's fastest-growing industries -- beer and advertising. Brewers accounted for nearly a quarter of all television ad revenues last year, spending an estimated $400 million.

While Putin's personal position is unclear, his administration is lobbying energetically against the amendments, agreeing with the Russian Union of Brewers that they would not achieve what lawmakers essentially want, which is to curtail the amount of alcohol the nation -- especially teenagers -- consumes.

A government representative also said the amendments would lead to an increase in vodka consumption, which has been decreasing recently, in part because it can no longer be advertised on television at all. The government's representative in the Duma, Andrei Loginov, told lawmakers that the recent boom of beer ads on television could actually be considered a positive development in the sense that it was responsible for luring young people away from using stronger alcohol like vodka.

Andrei Fedotov, an analyst at RPRG, which tracks advertising trends, said the amendments could be disastrous for the industry.

"Not all brewers will be willing to air their commercials in the daytime or late in the evening, since the audience is small or specific," he said. "Therefore, the television industry, which is the main advertising medium for beer, will be [hit hard]."

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