Russia has recently enacted a law that bans the advertising of alcohol beverages, beer and beer-containing drinks, as well as tobacco, tobacco products and smoking accessories. Traditionally, producers already look for loopholes in the law, whereas experts openly question the connection between advertising and bad habits of the population.
The new law that bans the advertising of alcohol products on the Internet and television came into effect on July 23, 2012 in Russia. Under the federal law No. 218 from July 18, 2011, the advertising of alcoholic beverages, including beer, was banned on the websites registered as mass media.
For the time being, advertising of alcohol beverages should not be placed on the first and the last pages of newspapers, on magazine covers, in television and radio programs, as well as in print publications, audio and video products for juvenile audiences.
According to the authors of the legislative initiative, "the main purpose of the bill is to create the conditions preventing the consumption of alcohol, including beer, by young people. The adoption of the federal law does not require modification or adoption of other acts of the federal legislation."
The move followed the decision to equalize beer to alcohol. According to experts, advertisers try to get around the ban by advertising non-alcohol beer.
But according to paragraph 3 of Part 2 of Art. 5 of the Law "On advertising", which "recognizes as unfair the advertising of a product the advertising of which is banned thereof at this time or in this place, if it is carried out under the guise of the advertising of another product, the trademark or service mark of which is identical or similar to the point of confusion with the trademark or service mark of the product," manufacturers will not be able to use this loophole for a long time.
Accordingly, if a television commercial of non-alcoholic beer displays a trademark that without limitation individualizes alcoholic beer, the name of the seller or the manufacturer of non-alcoholic beer, which also acts as the producer of alcoholic beer, and if the commercial ad does not say that the object of advertising is non-alcoholic beer, such advertising can be considered inappropriate.
Marina Petrukhina, an expert with the Council on excise policy for the committee on budget and taxes of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, said that the ban on alcohol advertising could only be seen as a very small step in the fight against alcoholism among the population: "The point here is perhaps to attract attention to the problems of the Russian people with alcohol. Obviously, this step will not change the situation in the country. The ban on alcohol advertising in relation to the society does not affect anything, if the state does nothing else. The image of activity is created, but in reality the situation does not get better. Advertising will become more sophisticated, but sales volumes will not be affected."
Perhaps the only thing that the new law will soon affect is advertising budgets of online media. Manufacturers will have to invest funds in another direction and look for other ways to promote their goods, develop entirely new strategies.
"Business is business. It means to seek new ways of development, look for the way to reach end users and earn money. It is the government that needs to struggle with alcoholism in the country by creating conditions for normal life and realizing the potential in the country where positive atmosphere should prevail. This is a future matter. In the meantime, we will not have massive advertising of alcohol, that's all," says Marina Petrukhina.