The Liquor Licence Act (LLA) states that no person shall advertise liquor except in accordance with the regulations enacted pursuant to the Act.
Section 87 of Regulation 719 and section 5 of Regulation 720 under the LLA permit the holder of a liquor sales licence or a manufacturer of liquor to advertise liquor within specified criteria and in accordance with these guidelines. These guidelines focus on specific concerns regarding advertising liquor and provide interpretations of the various criteria set out in the regulations. The notes following each guideline assist in interpretation and are by no means exhaustive in their scope.
Although obtaining the prior approval of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for advertising by holders of liquor sales licences or manufacturers of liquor is not necessary, it is their responsibility to ensure that advertising carrying its business or brand name, or endorsed by it, falls within the parameters set out in the regulations and in these guidelines.
Advertising that is beyond the permissible scope may result in disciplinary proceedings being initiated by the Registrar and/or the issuance of an order of cessation by the AGCO Board. Violations of the LLA or the regulations enacted there under may result in compliance or enforcement action.
Proposed advertising should be considered on the basis of both the express as well as any implied message, which is conveyed. The guidelines apply to all aspects of the advertisement such as the more obvious copy, graphics, lyrics, script and video, as well as the less obvious but influential aspects such as background music, voice inflection, etc.
Manufacturers and liquor sales licensees are responsible for all advertising (including merchandise) bearing their identification including corporate or brand identification that is displayed or distributed by any person. This will include all authorized advertising done on a manufacturer’s or sales licensee’s behalf. The manufacturer or liquor sales licensee is not responsible where it has not authorized advertising and has been diligent in its efforts at stopping the advertising once it has become aware of it. The manufacturer or liquor sales licensee must show it has exercised reasonable care and employed suitable precautions to ensure compliance.
Interpretations of the guidelines may be published from time to time.