After almost 30 years, hard-liquor commercials have returned to television, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Seagram this week began a series of 30-second ads for its Crown Royal whiskey on an NBC station in Texas, ending the spirits industry's self-imposed ban on TV advertising.The company said the voluntary Code of Good Practice of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States "placed its spirits products at a competitive disadvantage to beer and wine."
Seagram's move comes as sales of distilled liquor continue to drop. The total number of cases sold fell from 190 million in 1980 to 135 million last year, according to M. Shanken Communications, a New York publisher of industry trade magazines.
However, Seagram sold 1.8 million cases of Crown Royal last year, up from 880,000 in 1980, the publisher said.
The Texas commercials, which began Sunday on KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, follow a 30-second whiskey spot Seagram ran quietly during an equestrian event it sponsored on the Prime Sports Networks chain of regional sports channels.
The company also plans to look at other markets, though none has been announced, the Journal said.
It's too soon to know if other companies will follow Seagram's lead, but the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry trade group, said it supports Seagram even though its own voluntary code calls for no ads.
Council president Fred Meister said in a statement that "as a matter of fairness, our industry strongly believes we should not be discriminated against, nor should we discriminate against ourselves."