The Turkish President Abdullah Gul is expected to sign into law in the next week a bill banning alcohol advertising, and marketers are already racing to get out their poignant farewell messages to consumers.
In May, Turkey’s legislative body passed a draconian bill that outlaws all forms of alcohol advertising and promotion, prohibits TV shows, movies and music videos that air on TV from including scenes that stimulate use of alcohol, and ends the sale of alcoholic beverages in stores between 10pm and 6am. Stores will also lose income from the point-of-sale signage they can no longer display. It will also be illegal to sell alcohol near schools and mosques, limiting distribution points.
Until now, alcohol ad has been allowed in Turkey in print, outdoor, cinema and digital media. The new rules are being imposed with little consultation with marketers.
“For almost a year, we’ve been trying to reach the Turkish government to re-evaluate the proposals for the new regulations on the promotion and sales of alcoholic beverages,” said Diageo, in a statement. “When we acquired Mey Icki in 2011, we did not only invest in a strong brand, but also in a country which claims that it encourages foreign investments…. The fast confirmation of these regulations turning into law, has been a surprise and disappointment for us. But we always respect the laws of each country we operate in.”
Diageo owns Mey Icki, the fourth most-advertised alcohol brand by number of ads, according to Nielsen, and Yeni Raki, a version of Turkey’s popular local pastis-like drink raki. Diageo’s Yeni Raki, Turkey’s leading beer brand Efes and wine producers have all run full-page farewell ads in Turkish newspapers.
For local brand Efes, known for its familiar thick, squat bottle, TBWA Istanbul designed a big image of the naked brown bottle without its label. In the Yeni Raki ad by BrandTheBliss, a hand shakes a glass holding the clear liquid drink above the words “Ads are over. Excuse us.”
In the wine category, the Wine Producers Association ran an ad with text arranged in the shape of a wine bottle under the headline “Now we commend the 7,000 year old Anatolian wine to your care.” Well-known wine brand Doluca said goodbye with the upbeat message “Even if we won’t speak to you here [any more], we still see the glass half full, because we know that we are still going to be together in your precious moments. So long!”