File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Lockdown in SA: booze ban does not prohibit advertising alcohol

By Bongani Hans Time of article published May 6, 2020

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Johannesburg - Television stations had done nothing wrong by airing advertisements for alcohol during the Covid-19 lockdown period while the government had banned the sale of the product, said Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) chief executive Gail Schimmel. 

Each day, TV viewers were shown advertisements of different popular alcoholic beverages although the government had imposed a ban on the sale of the product during the lockdown period. 

Schimmel said the advertising was continuing because the law was silent when it came to promotions and marketing.

“I have read the regulation around it carefully and my reading of the regulation is that there is a ban on the sale of alcohol, but there is not a ban on advertising,” she said. 

She said the liquor brand owners continued to spend money on advertising to make sure that consumers remembered their brands when the ban was lifted “and people come back to buy their brands”. 

She said as long as brand marketers stuck to the rules, the ARB would not stop the broadcasting of the adverts. 

“Provided that they stick to those rules I can see nothing in the regulation that prohibits the advertising. 

“If it was, for example, an ad that told you how to buy black-market alcohol, that would be a problem because that would encourage you to break the law,” she said.

Schimmel said the fact that some people stocked a number of different brands in their homes made the advertising relevant. 

She said she did not believe that the advertising would encourage people to go out to buy counterfeit liquor. 

However, she said the ARB would closely monitor the adverts to make sure that they did not encourage people to go out to look black-market alcohol “or look for ways to get alcohol in breach of the regulation”. 

Diageo’s corporate relations director Sibani Mngadi said his company, which includes Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Grand Old Parr among its popular brands, had suspended their advertising.

Political Bureau

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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