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 concerns regarding advertising of beer, wine and/or cider, the availability of beer, wine and/or cider and the sale of beer, wine and/or cider. The notes following each guideline assist in interpretation but are not exhaustive in their scope.
It is the responsibility of grocery stores licensees to ensure that advertising carrying their business or brand name, or which they endorsed, falls within the parameters set out in the Act, regulations, requirements standards and enacted by the Registrar, and 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 any conveyed messages, express or implied. The guidelines apply to all aspects of the advertisement, including: grocery flyers and pamphlets, text, graphics, lyrics, scripts, videos, background music, voice inflection, etc.
Grocery store 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 includes all authorized advertising done on an authorized grocery store’s behalf. The grocery store 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 grocery store licensee must demonstrate that it has exercised reasonable care and taken suitable precautions to ensure compliance.
Interpretations of the guidelines may be published from time to time.
Guidelines for Grocery Store Licensees
The following directives provide guidance in order to identify and prevent practices that may encourage the immoderate consumption of beer, wine or cider.
Except for public service advertising, a grocery store with a Beer and Wine Licence or Beer and Cider Licence may advertise or promote beer, wine and/or cider or the availability of beer, wine and/or cider only if the advertising:
- is consistent with the principle of depicting responsibility in use or sale of beer, wine and/or cider
- An advertisement cannot promote or depict excessive or prolonged consumption, excessive quantity of beer, wine and/or cider, or occasions of use or drinking situations which are likely to involve risk to those present.
- does not promote the general consumption of beer, wine or cider and is restricted to the promotion of brands or types of beer, wine or cider eligible to be sold
- Advertisements may not promote the merits of beer, wine or cider consumption.
- Advertising produced by an individual grocery store or an organization representing a group of grocery stores is permitted, provided the advertising pertains to brands or types of beer, wine or cider and is consistent with all other advertising regulations.
- Advertisements may not make claims, direct or implied, of healthful, nutritive, curative, dietetic, stimulative or sedative benefits of beer, wine or cider. However, factual attributes of beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider and do not promote the consumption of beer, wine or cider in general.
- does not imply that consumption of beer, wine or cider 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
- resolution of social, physical or personal problems
- endorsement of a beer, wine or cider product by well-known personalities shall not directly or indirectly suggest that the consumption of any beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider or the consumption of beer, wine or cider. 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 or consumption of beer, wine or cider by the well-known personality.)
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.
- Children’s songs, fictional characters etc., or the imitation thereof, may not be used in advertising.
- For the advertising of beer, wine or cider, 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.
- 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 beer, wine or cider or the consumption of beer, wine or cider. 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 beer, wine or cider.
- Notwithstanding this subsection, any advertising of an authorized grocery store, which does not refer to the availability of beer, wine or cider, may appeal to persons under the legal drinking age and may be placed in media targeted specifically at people under the legal drinking age. For example, a grocery store may wish to sponsor an event targeted at people under the legal drinking age. This may be done provided the references to the grocery store do not include any references to the availability of beer, wine or cider.
- does not associate consumption of beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider 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 hobby).
- 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 beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider, unless the motorized vehicle is a form of public transportation
- Persons should not be depicted with beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider 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 beer, wine or cider
- An advertisement may not depict a grocery store gifting any customer with beer, wine or cider, or an individual gifting a person under the legal drinking age with beer, wine or cider.
- The illegal handling of beer, wine or cider may not be depicted. For example smuggling beer, wine or cider across a border may not be depicted.
- The consumption of beer, wine or cider 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.
- Beer, wine and/or cider 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.
- may not advertise or promote the use of points for the payment of beer, wine or cider (including exchange, conversion or redemption of)
- Advertisements and promotions may reference benefits issued on the purchase of beer, wine or cider pursuant to an in-store loyalty/reward program (i.e. loyalty/rewards points may be received for the purchase of beer, wine and cider).
- Loyalty/rewards points may not be redeemed toward the purchase of beer, wine or cider. References to the redemption of loyalty/reward points toward the purchase of beer, wine and/or cider may not be made.
- Loyalty and rewards programs must be applied equally to all beer, wine and cider products. Promotions involving extra loyalty points or rewards for a particular brand are not permitted.
- may not advertise or promote free or discounted merchandise contingent on the purchase of beer, wine and/or cider.
Guidelines for Wineries Operating Wine Boutiques in Grocery Stores
Wineries operating with a wine boutique endorsement in grocery stores should refer the Guidelines for Liquor Sales Licensees and Manufacturers in the AGCO.
Except for public service advertising, a winery authorized to sell wine in a wine boutique at a grocery store may advertise or promote wine or the availability of wine only if the advertising adheres to these directives.