ZA Confidential Experts Hit Out Against Proposed Booze Ban

Business organisation Sacci has hit out against plans for a ban on alcohol advertising. This would certainly hit the booze industry, but we suspect would not have much of an impact on consumption. Sacci warns that such a ban would lead to the loss “of about 12 000 jobs and a reduction in GDP of US$740 million (approximately R7.4 billion), impacts that South Africa can ill afford in the present economic circumstances.” But what do our experts make of it all?

Expert Comment:

Banker and wine estate owner Michael Jordaan:

Of course the ills associated with alcohol abuse should be fought. This can best be done by enforcing existing licensing laws which are often blatantly disregarded by informal alcohol distributors. More enforcement of drink-driving could also significantly reduce the death toll on our roads. The proposed ban on alcohol advertising unfortunately punishes the responsible producers by limiting their right to market their product, and punishes consumers by limiting their awareness of new choices. Furthermore, all alcohol is not equal. Responsible red wine drinking has been proven to enhance longevity and reduce heart disease. As a small wine producer, we at Bartinney (Wine Estate) do not have the resources to advertise, though. It is conceivable that the ban will affect larger and – in some cases – international brands more than the many small SA wineries. It would also strengthen the role of wine competitions and wine ratings as a form of promotion.

Leon Louw from the Free Market Foundation:

We should start by recognizing that alcohol consumption is a perfectly legitimate and ubiquitous thing for people to do. Overwhelmingly it accompanies congenial enjoyable and harmless socialization and relaxation. The assault – for that is what it is – on people who have a drink with friends and food is obscene. The proposed ad ban is, of course, a shameless violation of freedom of commercial expression, but even more seriously it is a violation of multiple consumer rights. As the nanny state tsunami engulfs South Africa there is never a mention of consumer rights. Even consumer activists are deafeningly silent. Every regulation of business is in fact regulation of consumers; it reduces consumer choices and sovereignty, the right of consumers to control their own lives and spending. The proposed liquor ad ban is no exception. It is effectively a ban on competition. Were the Department of Health subject to competition commission control it would be fined, like others accused of lesser violations, a billion rand, or more. Consumers have a right to competition amongst suppliers. The primary means of competition and marketing is advertising. Banning ads effectively entrenches the status quo. It also saves existing players billions in ad spending. Competitors will be muzzled from telling consumers what products, services, prices and outlets consumers are being offered. The ban will curtail the consumer’s right to new and innovative products, services and suppliers. The entrenchment of existing suppliers discriminates against emerging enterprises and innovators, especially blacks. Consumers have, or should have, a right to be offered and to get attractively and appealingly marketed products, including alcohol. Consumers have, or should have, a right to information about products and prices. Advertising bans violate that right. Consumers benefit from all media: magazines, broadcasts, newspapers, internet etc. Ad bans drive all marginal media under, and reduce resources for those that survive. Consumers as sport participants and spectators benefit from sport and recreation sponsorship. Ad bans drive marginal activities under, and diminish what survives. Ad bans not only ban essential consumer communication and vital information, but also, paradoxically, health warnings and ads that encourage responsible behaviour, including responsible driving, family life and employment. Anyone who supports this ban must realise that they condone by necessary implication and inference all other violations of rights of communication, consumer choice and lifestyle. Anything a puritanical, despotic, draconian or meddlesome politician does not like you doing, publishing or reading will be banned, which will be legitimised by precisely the same sophistry, that it is for your own good. The premise of the nanny state is that you, that’s right YOU, are too idiotic to have choices or to behave responsibly.

Mike Ratcliffe from Warwick and Vilafonte Estates:

A ban on alcohol advertising is an ill considered knee-jerk reaction. A pessimist might label it pandering to an electorate, but a well-advised observer would be very clear that this is an inefficient vote-gathering exercise. Suffice to say, the world has changed, the internet and social media are the new mediums for the communication of opinion – and governments are no longer truly able to influence these channels. Alcohol advertising will immediately go underground and social media will become the new frontier. Companies like Wine of the Month Club, and other online sales and marketing initiatives will gain a significant boost. Online brand positioning is the future – irrespective of an alcohol advertising ban.

Michael Olivier, Wine Guru on Die Vine Intervention:

I think we are even more prohibitionist and Calvinist in our approach to alcohol now than we were pre-1994.With social media and all its aspects, I think it is too late for these bans. The producers will find a way.


ZA Confidential is against the ban. And will continue to host the weekly wine tasting podcasts of Michael Olivier and John Fraser. Cheers!

Tweets of the Day:

Jay (@jaymeisterrr): Masterchef South Africa Spoiler Alert: Everything is scripted. An aspiring chef wins. They can cook. They like crying.

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