outside of a Vancouver BC Bar

Social Media and Advertising in the Bar and Beverage Industry

Clever advertising and an engaging social media presence are significant aspects of many successful businesses, and the hospitality and brewing industry is no exception. The competition for patron dollars and loyalty is fierce in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver. With British Columbians enjoying an ever widening variety of locally made craft beer, wine and spirits and exciting new venues to consume them in, connecting with the public through creative and targeted advertising is more important than ever. Unlike other industries though, the liquor production and service industry is heavily regulated and those regulations control how a licensed establishment or manufacturer is permitted to advertise.

The overarching requirement is that all advertising (including signage, promotional materials and social media) for licensed establishments and manufacturers must comply with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages as well as the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation. Alcohol & Advocacy recommends that all licensees read those documents closely before authorizing any advertisements – including social media marketing.

While far from an exhaustive list, licensees should keep the following in mind:

You may advertise:

  • What kind of liquor your establishment offers or that it specializes in a certain type of liquor like scotch or wine (you may refer to brand names)
  • How much you charge for liquor (including happy hour pricing or other specials)
  • Entertainment or food featured at your establishment.

Your advertising may not include the following:

  • Language or images that would encourage people to drink liquor or to drink liquor irresponsibly
  • Images of people drinking liquor, or anyone that is intoxicated or behaving irresponsibly
  • Pictures of minors, or be in a form that is directed at minors, or displayed in a location frequented by minors
  • Anything that depicts liquor as a status symbol, central to the enjoyment of an activity or the key to social acceptance
  • The promotion of wet t-shirt contests

Licensees should also keep in mind that the Liquor Control and Licensing Act prohibits a person from selling liquor or advertising the availability or pricing if liquor without a liquor licence. Therefore internet group discounting services like Groupon cannot be used as part of a liquor promotion (they can be used to offer deals that do not include liquor like food or door cover).

Licensees should ensure that whoever is responsible for their advertising and social media accounts is thoroughly familiar with the relevant rules and regulations.

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.

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gorillaprm - February 9, 2015

I worked on a bar once, I wanted to implement some of these ideas but due to the bar been part of a massive chain, the company thought it would damage their reputation. Do you think that this is fair as it could boost an certain bars overall performance and client base.

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