Regulators

Surrogate TV ads set to go up in smoke after I&B order

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NEW DELHI: No more fun times with Kingfisher. McDowell soda water will remain uncorked and Cavender's adventure gear will have to take a backseat, as the government has finally cracked the whip leaving no scope for ambiguities.

In a circular, the information and broadcasting ministry has said brand extension advertising related to liquor and tobacco companies will not be allowed on TV in any form.

What is surprising is that while the electronic medium has been told to follow the government diktat, the print medium has been spared any such rigours leaving the option open for liquor companies to channelise their media spend heavily towards print products.

The government circular, issued today to the relevant section of the broadcast industry, clarifies that under the Cable TV (Network) Regulation Act 1995, liquor and tobacco advertising is not allowed on TV, which would also include from now on surrogate or brand extension advertising.

This also means that the TV channels would have to take a collective hit of between Rs 1300 to 1500 million in advertising revenue that was spent by liquor and tobacco companies annually in advertising brands not directly related to liquor or tobacco products.

When the government had first frowned on liquor

advertisements on TV channels in the mid-1990s, such companies had taken the surrogate advertising route, claiming it was part of brand extension.

So, you had Kingfisher soda water, Bacardi Blast music collections, 8 PM apple juice and even Wills rare moments photo collections, apart from a slew of other such products that were not readily available in the market.

The latest government circular also puts a question mark on media campaigns of yet-to-be-launched airlines services such as Kingfisher Airlines (promoted by liquor baron and MP Vijay Mallya) and the existing chain of casual wear from the ITC group, which is marketed under the Wills brand name.

Similarly, it also raises doubts over sponsorship of sporting events like Signature golf tournament and similar events that are also televised. TV companies were not immediately available for comment, but broadcast industry sources said this move may be challenged over why print has been spared the brand extension advertising ban.

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