“Battle looms over shock move to ban liquor ads” screams the headline in Business Day this morning. But the big problem for a Department of Health trying to “totally prohibit the advertising and promotion of alcoholic products” is the internet. Will the SA government build a firewall in the same way the Chinese government stops its citizens from searching for news of playboy princeling Bo GuaGua? Or pass a law like the King of Swaziland who forbade his citizens from insulting him on their blogs and via Twitter? The digital cat is out of the bag and liquor ad spend will migrate online faster that you can say Buitenverwachting.
A good thing say I, for when a company like Distell, reputed to be the tenth largest liquor advertiser in the world, diverts the Great Gariep of its marketing budgets into cyberspace, the quality of the local digital offering can only improve. They should start by buying every drinker an iPad. Banning drink ads will be bad news of course for the J&B Met and probably the final nail in the coffin of dead-tree media. Without whisky ads, many a glossy magazine will shrink to a couple of pages. Classic Wine magazine will be fine, as they don’t run liquor ads anyway (canny old Dominic Ntsele), but what will poor Whisky magazine do, Fiona?
More strong arguments against controlling social behaviour were advanced by swimming pool artist David Hockney in the Mail on Sunday yesterday. He was talking about smoking, but his trenchant comments apply equally well to the demon drink. He makes some good points:
His painting sums it all up. Perhaps William Kentridge can have Soho Eksteen drowning his sorrows with an Eben Sadie old vines wine.