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TTB Releases Updated Social Media Advertising Guidelines

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (“TTB”) recently published TTB Industry Circular 2022-2, which provides updated guidance on the use of social media in alcoholic beverage advertising. All advertisements for alcoholic beverages in any form of media – print, television, outdoor, social media, etc. – must adhere to the TTB’s advertising regulations, which are codified in the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (“FAA Act”). These regulations are intended to protect consumers by prohibiting false or misleading claims in relation to alcoholic beverage products.

As new forms of social media emerge, the TTB periodically releases updated advertising guidance. The last Industry Circular on social media advertising was released in 2013. TTB Industry Circular 2022-2 includes some notable changes, including specific provisions that address mobile websites, crowdsourcing sites, augmented reality, and social
media influencers. Some of the key takeaways are as follows:

Mobile websites: Most industry members use internet websites to advertise their products. Industry members might have a special version of their website for mobile devices that differs from their traditional desktop website. Both the mobile and desktop versions of the website must comply with the TTB advertising regulations.

Crowdsourcing/Crowdfunding sites (Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc.): Industry members that use crowdfunding websites to raise capital or to solicit donations are required to follow the TTB advertising regulations if the crowdfunding page discusses the company or any of its alcoholic beverage products.

Augmented Reality: Industry members may enable consumers to access augmented reality technology, wherein a computer-generated image is superimposed on the user’s view of the world. Augmented reality content is subject to the TTB advertising regulations.

Social Media Influencers: Personas on social media (Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc.) with an audience or followers are often paid for their endorsement of certain products, including alcoholic beverages. Content produced and posted by social media influencers involving alcoholic beverages may be considered an advertisement, which would make it subject to the TTB regulations, even when the content is posted on the influencer’s own social media account.

The new guidance also clarifies that the same rules apply to all forms of social media advertising, including social media “likes” and third-party content that is reposted or “liked” by an industry member. Any content that an industry member posts, “likes,” or reposts that would cause the content to show up in their followers’ feeds is considered
advertising, and thus, subject to the TTB regulations.

For more information regarding social media advertising for alcoholic beverages, contact an attorney at Strike Kerr & Johns.


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