One of our areas of focus at Strike Kerr & Johns is the regulatory framework for the advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages. Under that lens, we’ve been curiously watching the proliferation of alcohol marketing via social networks. The trend is mushrooming, and alcoholic beverage regulations haven’t developed to account for the specifics of the new technologies. Though there is not an intrinsic problem with utilizing social networks to reach your target market, uninformed use of the channel can end up violating a host of alcoholic beverage laws. We expect to see significant regulations imposed at the state-level in the coming years based on companies that “push the envelope” in ways that make state regulators uncomfortable.
That doesn’t mean you should sit idly by while other companies capitalize. We advise our clients and friends to proceed with caution and use common sense. Make sure your advertisements are not aimed at kids. Don’t give away alcohol, valuable prizes or promotional discounts unless you’ve confirmed legality. Be mindful of state lines, and the fact that you may be able to market to a consumer in your home state in a way that you MAY NOT be able to market to a consumer in your neighboring state. And the big one that seems to keep coming up: a promotion offered over Twitter or Facebook or FourSquare requires no less compliance because it is offered on a social media platform. Give yourself lead time to get the proper legal clearance for any promotion.
Alcohol.law Digest is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.