SURROGATE ADVERTISING IN INDIA A NEVER ENDING DILEMMA SUBMITTED BY: VIBHA BEHL MBA 2 ND SEM LPU
In India, it is legal to manufacture liquor and cigarettes and sell them freely.
But it is illegal to advertise them through the public media.
It is done through surrogate advertising, which is banned by law but no practical enforcement is done.
As it is difficult to establish that it is a “surrogate product” and not a “legitimate product”.
Applauded by audience when Tamil film actor Rajnikanth flipped his cigarette in the air before lighting it up.
Empathized with Shahrukh Khan when he comsumed liquor in the movie Devdas.
But in future Ministry of Health’s proposal to ban the depiction of actors smoking on the silver screen is implemented.
As role models for the youth are spreading wrong signals to the youth and children who tend to imitate the same in their own lives.
Liquor and cigarettes are the major revenue generators for the government by way of taxes and duties levied on these items.
Marketers of cigarette and alcoholic products have for long using path of surrogate advertising to provide them with the market exposure.
But these are also encouraging people to consume tobacco and liquor indirectly.
MEANING OF SURROGATE ADVERTISING
It is one where a product which is different from the main product (parent brand), is advertised and promoted with the same brand name as that of the main product (parent brand) to camouflage the later. The product, thus, advertised is called “SURROGATE PRODUCT” and such advertising is referred to as “SURROGATE ADVERTISING”.
To ban surrogate advertising, the government of India issued a notification amending the CABLE TELEVISION NETWORKS RULES, 1994.
It was issued on February 25, 2008, to the effect that no advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol or other intoxicants.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi had said that failure to comply will entail action as per the provisions of the CABLE TELEVISION NETWORKS (REGULATIONS) ACT, 1995, and rules framed thereunder.”
There was a hope to clamp down on the media that have been using surrogate advertisements to mislead consumers and encourage the consumption of liquor and tobacco products.
According to the Press Council of India’s norms for journalistic conduct, Article 13(2)(b) of the PRESS COUNCIL ACT 1987, prevents advertising in print media from directly or indirectly promoting the consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products and other intoxicants.
It is used as a means of circumventing the rule that prevents the open advertising of certain products.
There are problems in implementing the ban on surrogate advertising.
Some questions are raised in this context as some feel that this amounts to double standards.
There is no ban on selling the products, so why should there be a ban on advertising the same??
As the government wants the enormous tax revenue that it gets from these industries, but wants to strangle their legitimate marketing efforts.
It is a controversial stand.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF SURROGATE MARKETING
As per the government rules, no advertisements should lead to sale, consumption, promotion of liquor and cigarettes.
But the marketers spend their promotion budgets on the alternative products on the same brand name and thus, indirectly build the liquor/ cigarette brand.
The budget is often used for surrogate advertising.
It is used to --- to sponsor sports and other advertisement events or to engage in co-marketing with other products and services.
In order to enhance the parents brand’s visibility.
It is done by complementary products such as soda, bottled drinking water, fruit juices.
Other commonly advertised include music CDs, apparel and accessories, and sport goods of the same brand name.
Many such companies are engaged in sports sponsorship as means for promoting their brands.
It includes companies as:-
UNITED BREWERIES GROUP’S IPL (INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE) cricket team “Royal Challengers”.
It has been named after its premium whisky brand “Royal Challenge”.
UB also sponsored a four-leg national “Royal Challenge” Grand Prix.
UB’s presence is also in international sports events like Formula 1 racing.
As a result there is increase in trend of liquor and cigarette majors sponsoring events and award ceremonies such as :-
Smirnoff International Fashion Awards
Bravery or lifetime achievements
Teacher’s Achievement Awards
The Red and White Bravery Award
The Red and White Bravery Award is instituted by Godfrey Philips.
In year 2002, at the tenth “Red and White Bravery Awards” ceremony that took place in the national capital, Dr. Verghese Kurien (the father of India’s white revolution), was felicitated for his social service.
On November 4, 2006, Parthasarathy (mridangam player), Louis Banks (pianist), Shankar Mahadevan (singer), Karl Peters (bass percussionist) and Shivamani (drums player), performed for “Seagram’s 100 Pipers the Legends” live at Hyatt Regency, Kolkata.
Seagram’s 100 Pipers is the brand name of a scotch whisky from the stable of Seagram’s.
Bacardi Blast album and parties, music cassettes from Bacardi Rum or from Seagram
Business case studies series of Johnnie Walker’s “The Keep Walking” from Leo Burnett was meant to advertise the whisky brand.
Johnnie Walker also uses “do not drink and drive” variety of social message advertisement to promote its own liquor brand.
This all information shows the loopholes in the current law which has been successfully exploited by the industry in its favour.
Banning Surrogate Advertising – Issues and Problems
Banning will result in an annual revenue loss of Rs. 200 cr for television channels and Rs. 250 cr for the print media.
The fact is that surrogate advertising are banned. The problem lies in implementing the ban.
If these are not genuine businesses, but are only used as a façade for promoting the parent product, i.e. liquor or cigarettes. But often, the non-genuineness of the “surrogate business” becomes more difficult to establish.
Director’s Special and Kingfisher bottled drinking water are sold in the market, but one can’t categorised it as surrogate products.
The prime objective of marketing these bottled water brands is to promote the parents liquor brands.
United Breweries promoted Kingfisher’s airlines, wherein Kingfisher is also the name of its flagship beer brand.
The airline was ser up with the brand name, color scheme and logo that were the same as that of the liquor brand.
Today United Breweries has a legitimate airline business in the name of “Kingfisher” and one cannot prevent it being advertised.
But at one time, there was a view that the airline business was a “surrogate product” for promoting the beer business.
Thus the fine line between the actual products and the façade is somewhat blurred today.
Likewise, Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) has set up a chain of lifestyle stores under the brand name “Wills”, the cigarette brand owned by it.
Legitimate business and their surrogate advertisements Four Square White Water Rafting Four Square Cigarettes Bagpipers Soda and Cassettes Bagpiper Liquor Bacardi Blast CDs and Cassettes Bacardi Liquor Derby Special Soda Derby Special Hayward’s Water/Soda Hayward’s 5000 Beer Radico Khaitan’s Water Radico Khaitan’s 8 pm Whisky McDowell’s Soda/Water McDowell’s Malt Whisky Surrogate Advertisement Legitimate Business
CNTD…. Red & White Bravery Awards Red & White Cigarettes Smirnoff Cassettes and CDs Smirnoff Vodka Seagram Music and CDs Seagram’s 100 Pipers Deluxe Scotch Whisky White Mischief Holidays White Mischief Liquor Royal Challenge Golf Accessories and Mineral Water, Royal Challengers Cricket Team Royal Challenge Whisky Kingfisher Bottled Drinking Water Kingfisher Beer Director’s Special Bottled Drinking Water Director’s Special Whisky
A Problem Solution To The Problem
Companies follow these strategies for surrogate advertising and marketing.
Government is ready to put companies under scanner to determine whether their umbrella branding strategy is transparent and genuine.
Brand extension is to be permitted if the purpose is to encourage the consumption of a product whose promotion is prohibited by law.
Understand the difference between “brand extension” and “surrogate products”.
This would prevent the use of liquor and cigarette brand name and identity while branding and advertising CDs, cassettes, soda, packaged drinking water, a fashion store or any product providing any loopholes or scope for misinterpretation.
Care should be taken to ensure legitimate businesses based on brand extensions are not prevented.
The main reason why the ban on surrogate advertising is not working today…..??????
It is the confusion and unclear, and falls within the loopholes.
And until the issue is resolved with clarity, whether we like or not, liquor and cigarettes marketers will rule the media through surrogate advertisements.
Surrogate – used to describe a thing that take place.
Legitimate –allowed and acceptable according to the law.
Camouflage- behavior that is deliberately meant to hide the truth.
Façade – which is different from the way it really is.