Comment: How much impact will an alcohol advertising ban really have on pubs?

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Related tags: British medical association, Alcoholic beverage, Advertising, Drink

How much of an impact would a ban on alcohol advertising have on pubs' ability to sell booze? Maybe not that much. The British Medical Association...

How much of an impact would a ban on alcohol advertising have on pubs' ability to sell booze? Maybe not that much.

The British Medical Association has proposed that drinks promotions be outlawed on the grounds that doing so would cut problem drinking. Producers have counter-argued that advertising does not increase consumption, but generally persuades people to switch brands.

This is highly believable. Consumers don't go to the pub for a Carling or a Carlsberg, a Blossom Hill or a Jacob's Creek; they go for a drink.

The pub is its own brand, one that doesn't require advertising. Drinkers will come through the doors regardless of whether they have seen a billboard telling them to drink Budweiser, or a big-budget TV ad extolling Smirnoff's purity.

Once at the bar, they may have a default order of the brand they had seen plastered across that morning's Times, but they are unlikely to be there purely because of that ad.

They won't turn away and go home if none of the brands they see on the bar-top and back-bar are saturating the country's mainstream media.

Banning advertising may even make the life of a licensee easier. Presently, failing to keep a watch on which brands are being advertised means coming a cropper when consumers' demand adjusts accordingly. No advertising, no such worries.

Banning advertising would be a very bad thing for brewers and distillers trying to win drinkers' favour, but it wouldn't necessarily be bad news for pubs.

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