RETAILER LIQUOR PROMOTIONS

Q: Can our station trade-out merchandise with a beer distributor and then give it away at a station promotion at a bar?

A: No. The Washington State Liquor Control Board has revised its interpretation of the "tied house" statute that generally prohibits "joint" promotions. A liquor supplier (beer distributor or manufacturer) may sell or trade-out novelty items, such as tee-shirts, for airtime, but only on a dollar for dollar basis. The novelty items may not be sold or traded to the station for less than the cost of the item.

The station may not give the novelty items to a retailer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages by the Liquor Control Board, nor may the station give the items away on its own behalf at a retail licensed premises, regardless of how the station acquired the items. However, the station may sell the novelty items, at not less than cost, to the retail licensed premises for giveaway at a promotion sponsored by the retailer.

 

ALCOHOL BEVERAGE ADVERTISING

PRICE & BRAND SPOTS

Q: The manager of a grocery store wants to advertise "specials" on various alcoholic beverages. Can the spots mention the special price and the brand name?

A: Yes, with some restrictions.

Price: Two requirements apply to price advertising. First, the retailer cannot sell (therefore advertise) an alcoholic beverage at less than acquisition cost. Certain exceptions apply, such as stock close-outs or seasonal goods, damaged goods, or to meet the price of a competitor selling the same product in the same locale.

Second, retailers cannot advertise alcoholic beverages using terms such as "two for the price of one," "two for one drinks," "buy one get one free," "two for $ __" or any other phrase which means that a customer would have to purchase more than one drink at a time in order to receive the special price. The Washington State Liquor Control Board feels that these types of inducements violate the rule against promoting over consumption.

Brand name: The brand name may be used as long as the retailer is the sponsor of the advertising, and no payment (in whatever form) has been made to, or offered to the retailer by an alcoholic beverage manufacturer or distributor (or solicited by the retailer). In other words, there is no such thing as "co-op" advertising with alcoholic beverages. The name of a retailer may not be used in spots sponsored by either a distributor or manufacturer.

 

ALCOHOL BEVERAGE ADS - "HAPPY HOUR"

Q: Can we broadcast spots for a bar or tavern that promote "Happy Hour?"

A: Yes, but there are some problems to avoid. The Washington State Liquor Control Board has adopted a rule that prohibits its licensees from "encouraging over consumption." The Liquor Control Board has interpreted this rule to mean that a bar cannot offer a "2 for 1" type promotion. The bar may not require a customer to purchase more than one drink in order to get the special price.

In addition, a liquor licensee may not require that a patron buy more than one drink in a certain period of time in order to get the special price. In both cases, the customer must be able to purchase only one drink and still be able to pay the special price. As long as the language of the spot does not "promote over consumption" they will be acceptable to the Liquor Control Board.

The bar may use the term "happy hour" in its spots. A few years ago, the Liquor Control Board proposed to adopt a rule banning the term "happy hour," but WSAB intervention prevented this from becoming law.