Openness, Spirits Producers, and What’s Wrong with Sex?

Can self-regulation work? Can an industry be expected to police its own when it comes to assuring certain undesirable marketing practices are prevented or stopped? The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is going public with its self policing efforts and it’s a very good idea. They have released their first "Semi-Annaul Code Report".

The Distilled Spirits Council is a trade organization that represents some pretty big players in that industry:

Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine USA, Inc.
Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.
Barton Incorporated
Brown-Forman Corporation
Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc.
Jim Beam Brands Co./Future Brands LLC
McCormick Distilling Co., Inc.
Remy Amerique, Inc.
Pernod Ricard USA
David Sherman Corporation
Suntory International Corp.
Todhunter International, Inc.

The Council asks its member to abide by a "Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing".

Today they released to the public for the first time a review of those members who have violated one or more of the items in that code. It’s interesting stuff.

The violations fall mainly into two categories: Using publications to advertising where 70% or more of the readers are not over 21, and using sex to advertising a product.

The report shows that in most cases the violations of the code were responded to by the violators, changing their ads or choosing not to advertise in certain publications any more.

Probably half of the violations occur where the advertisers "rely upon sexual prowess or sexual success as a selling point for the brand".

Without having an answer to the question of whether or not this should be prohibited I still want to ask, why should this be forbidden?

What is wrong with using the ability of sex to motivate to sell a bottle of vodka or whisky? I understand why marketers shouldn’t aim at minors. I understand why marketers shouldn’t depict excessive consumption. I understand why marketers shouldn’t suggest their gin makes you smarter. But why shouldn’t a marketer use a picture of a woman in a bikini or a picture of a man leering at a woman with a martini in her hand to sell their product? What is it about sexual situations in advertising that somehow harm those being marketed to?

The issuance of this report by DISCUS on those who have violated their code is a wonderful move. The openness gives their efforts to control their won significant credibility.

Posted In: Wine Business


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