Maintaining Compliance With Alcohol Marketing And Advertising Laws
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulates and reviews advertising of alcoholic beverages. Businesses that serve or sell liquor, including bars, restaurants, liquor stores and brewpubs, must comply with TTB’s restrictions on advertising.
TTB accepts voluntary requests for reviews of alcohol advertising, which it performs at no charge. The things TTB looks for include:
- False, misleading or deceptive statements
- The use of mandated information, such as product/class information and the name and address of the advertiser
- Statements or images considered “obscene” or “indecent”
- Improper reference to the “purity” of distilled liquors
In addition to prescreening alcohol advertisements, TTB investigates complaints of ads that are allegedly in violation of its rules, and actively searches for ads to review. When choosing a target for inspection, TTB considers the advertising company’s history of compliance with its regulations, the advertisement’s impact on the market and the advertiser’s methods.
Compliance with TTB regulations is essential for all businesses involved in the alcohol industry, including those, such as bars and restaurants, that do not manufacture beer, wine or spirits.
Florida’s Tied House Evil Law
Another regulatory issue that bars and restaurant owners in Florida must face is the Tied House Evil law, which restricts the relationships vendors may have with other industry entities, such as manufacturers, distributors and importers. The law contains several specific rules about how industry members are allowed to advertise alongside or through vendors. For example, a manufacturer’s electric signs, posters and similar materials may be displayed at a vendor’s place of business, such as a Budweiser sign hanging in a bar’s window. However, vendors and other industry members may not engage in cooperative advertising.
The Tied House Evil law’s rules on advertising are complex. Bar, restaurant and liquor store owners who wish to avoid violations should discuss their advertising strategies with a qualified attorney.