Business & Marketing

Winery Advertising, Social Media and the FTC

The FTC has decided to review its policy in regards to alcoholic beverage company advertising and social media.  OK, makes sense – I am sure it is antiquated, as-are most government policies and regulations.

However, it looks like the government may be taking it a bit too far – in an article by Michael Doyle, published in the Kansas City Star – US to Review Online Marketing of Beer, Liquor and Wine, the FTC is requesting advertising data, including tweets and Facebook posts, from large alcoholic beverage companies:

In an ambitious venture, the Federal Trade Commission is requiring 14 major alcoholic beverage producers to release information about their Internet and digital marketing efforts. The parent companies for storied wineries including Kendall-Jackson, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard, as well as the likes of Anheuser-Busch and Bacardi, are all being tapped for precious data likely to shape future advertising rules.

I do understand that it is necessary to make sure all products are represented accurately and that alcoholic beverages are not being advertised to minors. I get it, I have a young child.  But I have to agree with the Steve Heimoff, and his article – Federal Trade Comish to Demand Winery Tweets? Don’t let it happen:

People under 21 (and I think the legal drinking age should be the same as the age to serve in the armed forces, 18) will do what they do: smoke pot, drink beer, whatever. And people will certainly say whatever they want on social media: that is social media’s DNA. The government can’t stop it, certainly not by spying on winery tweets.

Honestly, the wine industry does not have much to worry about.  Wine is not the alcoholic beverage of choice for tweens, teens and even college students – enter Mike’s Hard Lemonade, beer and the wonders of things such as Four Loko. So while this does pose some challenges to wineries, summarized nicely by Vintank’s article – Nothing Like a Good FTC Probe to Bring Another Headache to Wineries, I really don’t see too much of a shift in how wineries are interacting with consumers.

The advertising and social media interaction I have seen with various wineries has all been age appropriate and mostly educational.  <rant>I don’t think the government needs to worry about tweets that discuss wine pairings, a 16 year-old isn’t going to worry about which wine would go well with her Cheetos. And how often to you get a group of teens approaching you in a parking lot asking if you will buy wine for them…isn’t it normally beer?

And Big Brother – some food for thought – drug dealers, pushers – they aren’t opening Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups to push sales on dime bags, yet their business is booming.  So maybe, just maybe, think about focusing your efforts (albeit the best of intentions) somewhere else.</rant>

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