FTC wants to study voluntary alcohol ads restrictions


The FTC’s goal is not to regulate alcohol advertising – at least not on the face of its latest call for commentary. The goal is to study the effectiveness of the alcohol industry’s voluntary guidelines on advertising in keeping the messaging away from the attention of those too young to use their products.

It will be the FTC’s fourth major report on the topic. What it needs is permission from the Office of Management and Budget to issue requests for information to the companies it wishes to study.

The FTC’s proposed questions fall under five categories, or “specifications” as it puts it.

* Specification 1: Basic contact information; brands and sales data; and any non-public information on the demographic profile of underage drinkers the company may have.

* Specification 2: A 22-category breakout of market and promotion categories – radio and TV are on the list.

* Specification 3: Information about how advertising is placed and what steps are taken to make sure placements are consistent with voluntary guidelines, with special attention to advertising aimed at African American and Hispanic audiences.

* Specification 4: Information about digital marketing and data collection, including special attention to the company’s promotional websites.

* Specification 5: Information about less-traditional forms of advertising, such as direct mail, events, sponsorships, and many others.

The FTC has set a deadline for comment of 12/29/11. It’s complete information request list can be viewed here.