WASHINGTON -- Supermarkets should witness a boost in alcoholic spirit and liquor sales as a result of an industry council's decision to allow its members to advertise on radio and television, retailers told SN.
Citing increased competition from beer and wine companies that regularly advertise over the airwaves, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States updated its Code of Good Practice for Distilled Spirits Advertising and Marketing to include television and radio advertising. It had a self-imposed moratorium on advertising on the media stretching back for decades.
"The industry needs a shot in the arm to get going," said Tom Roesner, buyer of beer, wine and liquor at Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio.
Since a cocktail made with 1.5 ounces of liquor, a 5-ounce glass of wine and a 12-ounce bottle of beer all contain the same amount of alcohol, the council decided late last year to allow its members to advertise in an effort to stop declining sales.
The council said its members will use "tasteful" advertising and will not target minors.
Several distillers, including Seagram and Allied-Domecq, whose brands include Kahlua and Hiram Walker products, have already hit the airwaves with commercials airing after 10 p.m. in selected markets.
"Television and radio give you the measurability of the audience at any given time, which is not the same that could be said for a print vehicle," said Beth Oliver, vice president of corporate communications and events at Southfield, Mich.-based Allied-Domecq, which is currently advertising three Hispanic brands on Spanish-language television and radio.
Retailers told SN their liquor sales have been declining for several years, while beer and wine sales have increased.
"There is no upswing in the distilled spirits category right now, so this has to help," said Bob Jennings, buyer and merchandising manager of the beverage department at Raley's Supermarkets, West Sacramento, Calif.
"This will help boost sales, especially on new products and New Age-type alcoholic drinks," said Oscar Sicola, liquor and beer buyer and merchandiser for Fiesta Mart, Houston.
Still, Jennings said, if distillers choose to advertise on television and radio they may cut back on their print and in-store advertising.
A high-ranking official at one of the nation's largest distillers who did not want to be identified said distillers who advertise on television will most likely cut their advertising in other areas.
However, in Houston, where Seagram's has been advertising its Seagram's Lime Twisted Gin on radio and Crown Royal on non-network-affiliated UHF television stations for several months, manufacturer in-store promotions have remained the same, said Fiesta Mart's Sicola.
To date, the four major networks have declined to allow spirits advertising, although one industry official said he believes the affiliates can make their own advertising decisions.
Fred A. Meister, president and chief executive officer of the Distilled Spirits Council, said allowing his members to advertise will create a more level playing field.
Seagram's has been airing radio commercials for Seagram's Lime Twist Gin and television commercials for Crown Royal and Chivas Regal for about eight months.
Karin Timpone, a spokeswoman for Seagram Americas, New York, said Seagram's is airing the commercials to address the marketing challenges facing the premium spirits business.
Allied-Domecq's Old Greenwich, Conn.-based Domecq Importers subsidiary has been advertising Presidente brandy on the Telemundo Network after 10 p.m. nationally for eight years.
Allied-Domecq's Don Pedro brandy has been advertised on Telemundo after 10 p.m. in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Houston and Fresno for two years. During that time it has also used radio in five markets to advertise its Sauza Hormitos product, Oliver said.
"We have no plans to expand those three fairly targeted Hispanic consumer market brands into the general market, but at the same time we continue to consider using broadcast, where appropriate, for some of our other brands, such as Kahlua," she said.