Sunday, May 27, 2012

Surrogate Advertising


Surrogate Advertising
Product advertising for liquor and cigarette companies is banned in the country since 1995 by Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act. According to Rule 7 (2) of the Act, no broadcaster is permitted to show advertisement which promotes directly or indirectly promotion, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants, infant milk substitution, feeding bottle or infant food. This ban is now likely to be extended to advertising of extended brands. In June 2002, the Indian Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry served notices to leading television broadcasters to ban the telecast of two surrogate ads of liquor brands McDowell No.1 and Gilbey’s Green Label. The Ministry also put some other brands ---Smirnoff Vodka, Hayward’s 5000, Royal Challenge Whiskey and kingfisher beer on a “watch list.” The surrogates used by these advertisements ranged from audiocassettes, CDs, perfumes to golf accessories and mineral water. A market survey in 2001 revealed that advertising has a direct influence on the consumption habits of 431 million people in India and an indirect impact on 275 million `aspirants' from the lower income group. Considering this and realizing that nearly 50 per cent of the television owners have access to cable channels, there is no doubt that the hidden call for alcohol consumption behind the surrogate advertisements is not escaping the eyes of viewers in the world's fourth highest liquor-consuming country. The very purpose of banning liquor advertisements is defeated by surrogate advertising.  A surrogate advertisements is one in which a different product is promoted using an already established brand name. Such advertisements or sponsorships help in contribute to brand recall. The different product shown in the advertisement is called the “Surrogate.” It could either resemble the original product or could be a different product altogether, but using the established brand of the original product. The sponsoring of sports/cultural/leisure events and activities also falls under the purview of surrogate advertising. In India, the trend of surrogate advertisement gathered momentum with the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, which prohibits tobacco and liquor advertisements on TV channels. The liquor industry has intentionally blurred the line between products, advertising `old wine' in a `new bottle,' only this time with a soft-drink label. By August 2002, the I&B Ministry had banned 12 advertisements and leading satellite TV channels including Zee, Sony, STAR and Aaj Tak were issued show cause notices to explain their rationale behind carrying surrogate liquor advertisements. Answering to the notices, Zee and STAR stopped telecasting the advertisements, followed soon by Aaj Tak and Sony. In addition, the I&B Ministry hired a private monitoring agency to keep a watch on all the advertisements for violation of the Act.