Finweek English Edition - - Property Compass -

EVER SINCE TO­BACCO AD­VER­TIS­ING was banned, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the next ad­ver­tis­ing ban came into force. That’s now occurred – in the form of draft reg­u­la­tions ban­ning liquor ads vis­i­ble from pub­lic streets. The most ob­vi­ous im­me­di­ate pain will be felt by the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tor, which earned R113m from liquor ads this year. But it’s only about 1% of to­tal out­door ad­spend.

More im­por­tant than that is whether it’s jus­ti­fied to im­pose an­other re­stric­tion on com­mer­cial free speech, a con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected right. Will this be­come a broader trend and where will it end?

Of course, no rights are ab­so­lute. Even con­sti­tu­tional rights can be over­rid­den in the pub­lic in­ter­est. But one must ask again whether it’s right to ban the ad­ver­tis­ing of a prod­uct that’s le­gal to man­u­fac­ture and drink.

Ad bans have re­duced to­bacco con­sump­tion in many coun­tries but have also frozen brand mar­ket shares and handed cig­a­rette man­u­fac­tur­ers mas­sive wind­fall prof­its. And the to­bacco “dark mar­ket” is now graced by some of the most creative ideas ever de­vised in mar­ket­ing. There have even been suc­cess­ful launches of new brands.

There are two main grounds for ob­ject­ing to al­co­hol con­sump­tion: the dan­ger to other road users from drunken driv­ers and the di­rect health risks to the user. On the first, one must ask whether that means ban­ning fast cars as well; on the sec­ond, not all the health ef­fects are bad. Lim­ited al­co­hol con­sump­tion can be good for you. Al­co­hol is a dif­fer­ent case from to­bacco.

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