NBC Lifts Ban On Liquor Advertising

NEW YORK — NBC is lifting its voluntary ban on liquor advertising today, becoming the first major broadcast network to do so.

The General Electric-owned network will run ads for distilled spirits during shows airing after 9:00 PM, an NBC representative said. The first advertiser inaugurating the change in policy is Diageo’s Guinness/UDV, which markets more than 200 spirits brands Johnnie Walker Red Label, Bailey’s, and Smirnoff Vodka, among others.

As part of its deal with NBC, Guinness has agreed to sponsor a four-month on-air social responsibility campaign on safe drinking, the NBC representative said. An ad promoting responsible drinking sponsored by Smirnoff Vodka will be the first ad to run. After the four-month period for running ads promoting safe drinking, Smirnoff will be allowed to run ads that just feature the product.

The network’s other stipulations include barring the appearance of a professional athlete in the liquor ads, and only those shows where 85 percent of the audience for any show it accepts liquor ads in must be at least 21-years old; and the actors in the ads must be at least 30 years old.

This week’s Saturday Night Live broadcast will be the first show to feature the new liquor ads, the NBC representative said.

Grey Global Group’s MediaCom is the media buyer for all Diageo brands, including Guinness/UDV, in the U.S. MediaCom won the $150 million account this past summer.