Word on the mean streets of the wine world is that the alcohol governing bodies of this country are back at it with force. We've seen so.many.companies. giving away free booze and that's just flat out a no no. In order not to be "that guy," the one that the governing bodies use as an example, here are some quick reminders on marketing adult beverages.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I'm pretty sure I couldn't hack it and I can't afford law school. I've just been working on social media in the wine industry for a long time and know the ropes pretty well.
- You cannot, no way no how, give away alcohol as a prize (yes, wine is alcohol.)
- Can't show anyone under 21 in your images/videos. Go with the Wine Institute's recommendation that everyone look over 25 to avoid any question.
- No health claims. According to our federal government, alcohol cannot make us better at anything, though after a few we may think so.
- Everything we post on social media is an advertisement. Yes, even those posts of a pretty rainbow over the winery.
- Don't advertise to anyone younger than 21. Facebook is great about this as we have to be "real people" to join and most people even enter their actual birthday. The other sites are not as clear. A website has to reach the 71.6% threshold of users over 21 for alcohol companies to even post there. Snapchat, from last check, still hasn't reached that threshold.
- If you decide to do a giveaway, the giveaway item may not cost more than $1 for wineries. Want to do a mass giveaway of cool t-shirts? Be sure you order gazillions of them to get them under $1/shirt. Easier: find cheap giveaways or save your time and money on fulfillment and do a contest or sweepstakes instead.
- There IS a difference between a contest and a sweepstakes. A contest is a game of skill. A sweepstakes is a game of chance. For example, a photo contest means all entries will be judged by a set of criteria set in the rules. A sweepstakes requires basic information and a winner is chosen at random.
- The recipient of a prize worth over $600 must report it as income and is taxed. Keep it easy on your digital community and give away prizes under $500.
- One thing not related to alcohol but to content: images you find on Google are not fair game for use. Ask permission to use a photo/video from the copyright owner. If you can't locate this, move on to an image you can use (purchased stock, free stock, creative commons) or better yet, create your own!
More questions? Contact us anytime.
Disclaimer, one more time: I am not a lawyer.
Resources: Strike & Techel, a law firm in San Francisco, specializes in alcohol marketing and is a fantastic resource to get your bearings. Another great resource for wineries is the Wine Institute's Code of Ad Standards. For spirits, visit the DISCUS Code of Responsible Practices. For breweries, visit the Beer Institute's Advertising and Marketing Code.
One more note: There are other regulated industries that have similar laws & guidelines in place. Be sure you know those laws & guidelines before you take any risks in publishing posts that may violate those.