NBC has issued a set of advertising guidelines following its controversial decision to run commercials for hard liquor brands, thereby breaking a gentleman’s agreement among the big four networks to keep spirits off-air [WAMN: 14-Dec-01].

The network will transmit liquor ads only between 9pm and 11pm (EST) and during the ‘Tonight’ show. However, it may allow some exceptions on a “case-by-case” basis within programs whose demographics reflect at least 85% over-21 viewing. NBC will also insist that all actors appearing in such commercials be at least thirty years of age.

There are nineteen guidelines, including …

• Advertisers must broadcast for a minimum of four months prior to transmission of any product advertising a number of fully paid, branded ‘social responsibility’ messages.

• Thereafter a minimum of 20% of ongoing ad time must be devoted to paid, branded social responsibility messages promoting themes such as designated drivers, drinking in moderation, impaired driving and alcohol-related health consequences. These may be scheduled in any NBC show whose audiences are not composed primarily of teens.

• Advertisers must also agree not to promote alcohol consumption as a ‘mark of adulthood’ and no one in the commercials can be seen consuming alcoholic beverages.

• Athletes will not be permitted to appear in the ads.

As yet no other network has indicated whether it will emulate NBC, but many believe they will find it hard to resist the $100 million-plus annually that liquor advertisers would bring to their parties.

News source: MediaWeek.com (USA)