Alcoholic Beverage Advertisements Through Alibi Branding

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Any advertising of alcohol products is banned in any kind of media. This ban includes broadcasts on TV and radio, ads in the cinema, product replacement, printed media as well as social media and digital platforms.
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Any advertising of alcohol products is banned in any kind of media. This ban includes broadcasts on TV and radio, ads in the cinema, product replacement, printed media as well as social media and digital platforms. Hence, brand communication to consumers is strictly prohibited in Turkey and there is total prohibition of alcohol advertisement in any media.

Alibi branding is an alternative mechanism for promotion of alcohol brands and in fact, this is a grey area. Although there is total ban of alcohol advertising we observe that alcoholic beverage companies launch their online media campaigns with alibi branding that can be signs without any specific brand, logo, trademark and even company names in which color combinations and patterns of the company are used. In Turkish legislation, there is no clear rule about the use of alibi proxy brands. The Advertisement Board's assessment of the use of alibi brands has also changed over time.

  • In 2020, The Advertisement Board reviewed the promotional activities of a leading, well-known and reputable Turkish alcoholic beverage company in various event such as concerts and cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs etc., without displaying the trademark or image of the products but with an expression "1478046a.jpg" (meaning "together, beautiful" in Turkish). The color combination of this expression matches with the relevant well-known brand of the said alcoholic beverage company. In its decision, the Advertisement Board did not find these activities to be contrary to the Turkish law and to the prohibition of alcohol advertising.
  • The Advertisement Board, in its decision in 2023, addressed the broadcast of the YouTube channel named "Bozuk Mikrofon" and the program titled "Alo Evrim Ağacı Hattı // Bozuk Mikrofon #15," where the "Efes Malt Bira" branded alcoholic beverage was displayed on the set and shown with its front facing the camera for the entire thirty-four-minute interview-chat format program without being consumed. Additionally, in the video titled "Sürekli Masaj İstiyorum // Bozuk Mikrofon #13," published by the same YouTube channel on 20.01.2023, the registered trademark "1478046b.jpg" no. 2021/082546 of the alcoholic beverage company named Efes Pazarlama ve Dağıtım Ticaret A.Ş. was consistently displayed at the top right corner of the program. The video's description section indicated that concealed promotions were carried out with the "+1" brand, stating, "Whether you are against tropical fruits entering the refrigerator or not, increase your enjoyment by +1 while watching the episode!". Given that advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages on any platform are prohibited by legislation in force and that the sharing in the mentioned program violated the relevant regulations, the Advertisement Board imposed administrative fines against each the advertiser Anadolu Efes Biracılık ve Malt San. A.Ş., and the media company and decided to suspend these advertisements.
  • The Advertisement Board, in another decision in 2023, addressed a commercial film published on Instagram and YouTube where an actor made statements to the audience in a closed environment resembling a restaurant/bar. During the video, it was clearly seen in the background of the bar that only alcoholic beverages branded as "Jack Daniels Whiskey," specifically the varieties "Jack Daniels Old No.7" and "Gentleman Jack," were displayed. At the end of the video, the expression "Jack lives here" appeared on the screen. The "Jack" expression on the screen and seen at various moments in the video at the bar was identical in font and color to the company's registered trademark. In this context, it was determined that the "Jack" label and the "Jack Daniels" branded liquor bottles clearly seen in the background were perceived by the average consumer as the "Jack Daniels Whiskey" brand in the video narrative and various moments of the video. It was concluded that this composition deliberately created demand using images and implications that are prohibited by regulations for alcoholic beverage advertisement. Therefore, it was decided to impose administrative fine against the advertiser and to suspend the mentioned advertisements due to the violation of the relevant regulations.

Alcoholic beverage companies carry out marketing and promotional activities by using alibi proxy brands in various platforms. It is observed that the Advertisement Board changed its earlier assessment for these promotional activities, concluded that advertisements with alibi brands violate the legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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