Bubble Bursts in Russian Beer Ads

14 September 2004

The rise in beer drinking amongst young Russians and the resulting rowdiness has moved the Duma, the country's elected representatives, to introduce laws restricting how and when beer is advertised on TV, radio and outdoor sites.

Not surprisingly, brewers, ad agencies and sports organisations, which see vast amounts of roubles at stake, are hoping the government will soften its approach before the law comes into full effect on January 1.

Sports groups say the ban on TV and radio commercials between 7am and 10pm could threaten live matches if teams and stadiums are forced to cover up beer logos, and that foreign teams could boycott competitions in Russia altogether.

The government is determined to take the 'glamour' out of advertising beer, which was originally promoted as a 'softer' alternative to the country's traditional drink, vodka. In addition to the 7am-10pm broadcast ban, the use of people, animals and cartoon characters will also be off-limits.

Says Vladimir Medinsky, deputy chairman of the Duma's economic committee: "Beer advertising is not advertising of the product. It's lifestyle advertising. Really we don't have any traditions of beer drinking ...We hoped that the drinking of beer would be instead of vodka, but now they go together."

Until now, beer advertisers have spent about $15bn (€12bn, £8bn) a year on Russian TV slots, about 90 percent of the major brewers' marketing budget.

The beer market is the fifth biggest in the world and still growing.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff