The first hard-liquor commercial ever to be carried on any broadcast TV
network is set to air on NBC’s Saturday Night Live this weekend,
the network said Thursday as it announced the lifting of its voluntary
ban on such advertising.
The network said that it signed a
multimillion-dollar deal with Britain’s Diageo PLC, whose labels
represent an array of alcoholic beverage brands (including the Seagram
brands, which it purchased from Universal Vivendi this year).
The ad campaign
will be accompanied by a safe-drinking series of public service spots.
NBC’s announcement immediately produced an outcry from anti-liquor
groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, whose
alcohol policies director, George Hacker, told the New York
Times, “It’s the first foot forward that will result down the line
to opening the door for hard-liquor ads looking like beer ads.”
Daniel Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers told the Wall
Street Journal: “As long as they don’t target young people, we see
no reason why both beer and liquor companies shouldn’t be able to
advertise on TV.”
Ads may air only after 9:00 p.m.; 85 percent
of the audience of any show on which they are inserted must be 21 years
old or older; no endorsements by athletes will be permitted; actors
appearing in the spots must be at least 30 years old.