In accordance with the Interim Standards, no one may advertise or promote liquor or the availability of liquor unless the advertising is conducted in accordance with the guidelines related to advertising issued by the Registrar.
These guidelines focus on specific issues regarding advertising liquor. The notes following each guideline assist in interpretation but are not exhaustive in their scope.
It is the responsibility of ferment on premises licensees and liquor delivery licensees, and special occasion permit holders to ensure that advertising carrying its business or brand name, or endorsed by them, falls within the parameters set out in the regulations and in these guidelines.
Advertising that is beyond the permissible scope may result in regulatory action including the issuance of an order of cessation by the Registrar. Violations of the LLCA, the regulations enacted thereunder or standards and requirements established by the Registrar 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 that 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.
Ferment on premise licensees and liquor delivery licensees, or special occasion permit holders, 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. Ferment on premise licensees and liquor delivery licensees, or special occasion permit holders, are not responsible where the advertising has not been authorized by the Licensee or permit holder, and the Licensee or permit holder has been diligent in its efforts at stopping the advertising once it has become aware of it.
Ferment on premise licensees and liquor delivery licensees, or special occasion permit holders, must show they have exercised reasonable care and taken suitable precautions to ensure compliance.
Interpretations of the guidelines may be published from time to time.
Guidelines for Ferment on Premise Licensees, Liquor Delivery Licensees and Special Occasion Permit Holders
A Permit Holder for a private event special occasion permit is not permitted to advertise or promote liquor or the availability of liquor.
Except for public service advertising, a ferment on premises licensee or liquor delivery licensee or special occasion permit must ensure that any proposed advertising:
- is consistent with the principle of depicting responsibility in use or service of liquor;
- An advertisement cannot promote excessive consumption or depict excessive or prolonged consumption, or excessive quantity of liquor, or occasions of use or drinking situations, which are likely to involve risk to those present.
- promotes a general brand or type of liquor and not the consumption of liquor in general;
- Advertisements may not promote the merits of consumption.
- Advertisements may not make claims, direct or implied, of healthful, nutritive, curative, dietetic, stimulative or sedative benefits of the liquor product. However, factual attributes of the liquor product which are commonly accepted by recognized authorities (such as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Health Canada, or national or provincial medical associations) may be stated in the advertisement provided the attributes relate to the particular brand or type of liquor and does not promote the consumption of liquor in general.
- does not imply that consumption of liquor is required in obtaining or enhancing:
- social, professional or personal success,
- athletic prowess,
- sexual prowess, opportunity or appeal,
- enjoyment of any activity,
- fulfilment of any goal, or
- resolution of social, physical or personal problems.
- endorsement of a liquor product by well-known personalities shall not directly or indirectly suggest that the consumption of any liquor has contributed to the success of their particular endeavours.
- does not appeal, either directly or indirectly, to persons under the legal drinking age, or is not placed in media that are targeted specifically at people under that age;
- No well-known personality may be used in liquor advertising who may reasonably be expected to appeal, either directly or indirectly, to persons under the legal drinking age if the advertisement contains any direct or indirect endorsement of liquor or the consumption of liquor. This may include historical, political, religious and cultural figures as well as celebrities and sports figures. (This would not apply to public service advertisements provided there is no direct or indirect endorsement of liquor or consumption of liquor by the well-known personality.)
- Children’s songs, fictional characters etc., or the imitation thereof, may not be used in advertising.
- A holder of a licence or a special occasion permit may donate corporate or brand identified scholarships, bursaries and scholastic prizes to be awarded to post-secondary school students.
- The use of a medium that is targeted at persons under the legal drinking age is not permitted. For example, advertisements may not appear in magazines targeted specifically at people under the legal drinking age or run in conjunction with movies where the intended age of the audience is under the legal drinking age. Stationary outdoor advertising should not be placed within 200 metres of a primary or secondary school.
- Advertisements should not be placed within areas which are specifically targeted at persons under the legal drinking age if the advertisement directly or indirectly endorses liquor or the consumption of liquor. An example of this would be a children’s concert which is attended by a large number of adults.
- Songs, which have a specific appeal to persons under the legal drinking age, shall not be used for advertising.
- Portrayals of well-known personalities which would generally be prohibited due to the potential that the personality may appeal to persons under the legal drinking age may be used provided the use of the personality is incidental to the advertisement and the use of the personality does not make the advertisement appealing to persons under the legal drinking age.
- Notwithstanding this subsection, any advertising, which does not refer to the availability of liquor, may appeal to persons under the legal drinking age and may be placed in media targeted specifically at people under the legal drinking age.
- does not associate consumption of liquor with driving a motorized vehicle, or with any activity that requires care and skill or has elements of danger;
- Persons should not be depicted with liquor prior to, in anticipation of, or while engaging in any activities which involve care and skill or elements of physical danger. (An activity includes work, sports, recreation, crafts, and hobbies.) Consumption should not be associated with the performance of any aspect of any activity, which calls for a high degree of skill if imitation by the unskilled or underage could be considered dangerous.
- The depiction of an activity which involves care and skill or elements of physical danger must clearly establish that the individuals shown with liquor are merely spectators or have completed that activity for the day and are then depicted with the product.
- Vehicles involved in races, competitions, contests, exhibitions, or public displays may be used as a medium for liquor advertising; however, graphics of the product (i.e. bottles, cans, glasses, etc.) and specific references to alcohol content (% alcohol / volume) are not permitted.
- does not depict motorized vehicles in motion in advertising showing consumption of liquor, unless the motorized vehicle is a form of public transportation;
- Persons should not be depicted with liquor prior to, in anticipation of, or while operating a motorized vehicle. There cannot be any indication, direct or implied, that an individual who has been depicted with liquor will then be operating a motorized vehicle.
- Motorized vehicles should not be shown in motion in an advertisement, which includes a consumption scenario unless the vehicle is a form of public transportation. Parked vehicles, or vehicles such as buses, trains, planes, taxicabs, licensed boats, etc., in motion, may appear in advertisements with consumption scenarios.
- Motorized vehicles involved in races, competitions, contests, exhibitions, or public displays may be used as a medium for liquor advertising, however, graphics of the product (i.e. bottles, cans, glasses, etc.) and specific references to alcohol content (% alcohol / volume) are not permitted.
- does not suggest any illegal sale, illegal purchase, illegal gift, illegal handling or illegal consumption of liquor.
- An advertisement may not depict a licensee gifting any patron with liquor, or an individual gifting a person under the legal drinking age with liquor.
- The illegal handling of liquor may not be depicted. For example, smuggling liquor across a border may not be depicted.
- The consumption of liquor may not be depicted or implied in settings where this would not be legal in Ontario such as public beaches, public parks, private boats without sleeping accommodations, etc.
- Liquor may be depicted in a setting where consumption is not permitted provided it is clearly a beauty shot with no evidence of people or of previous or imminent consumption.
- A ferment on premises licensee or liquor delivery service licensee or special occasion permit shall not offer a gift or the opportunity to receive a gift that requires the purchase of liquor.
- Offers linked to a single purchase of services or ingredients are permitted but not linked to multiple purchases such as a frequent buyer’s club.
- is consistent with the principle of depicting responsibility in use or service of liquor;