NFL to end spirits advertising ban

The National Football League has said it is going to lift a ban on spirits advertising during games in the 2017 season.

It will be the first time spirits producers will be given access to game time advertising spots in what has otherwise been an almost exclusively beer-dominated arena.

That said, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, spirits adverts will be capped at just four 30-second-long slots per game, with no more than two spirits adverts in a quarter.

Furthermore, each advert must feature a “prominent” social responsibility message and at least 20% of advertising during the season (so a good part of a quarter of all total advertising) must be dedicated exclusively to social responsibility.

As with beer, no spirits advertising will be allowed to have a football theme, feature current players or target youths.

Big beer dominates alcohol advertising and sponsorship in the NFL. AB InBev, especially with its Bud Light brand, is the league’s official beer sponsor and partner of the majority of the teams, while MillerCoors is also a key advertiser.

One concession to the inclusion of spirits advertising during games is that the brewers will now be able to advertise their ‘flavoured malt beverages’ for the first time – products such as Bud Light’s ‘Lime-A-Rita’ – but they will also be governed by the rules that cover spirits.

So far there does not appear to be any indication that any of the drinks giants has been chosen as an ‘official partner of the NFL’, presumably leaving the way clear for the likes of Pernod Ricard, Diageo, Bacardi and Beam Suntory to jockey for position.

Advertising in the NFL does not come cheaply, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl now costs over US$5 million.

Not that the companies in question tight for money, all of them command multi-billion pound/dollar portfolios, spirits consumption is growing in the US and as the NFL is the most-watched pro-sport in the US and with growing following around the world – in the UK, Germany, Australia and Mexico in particular – one can be sure the opportunity hasn’t passed the big spirits producers by.

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