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Liquor Ads Return to Prime Time

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Economic considerations are driving TV networks to broaden their acceptance of advertising for alcohol products, the Los Angeles Times reported Feb. 13.

Local CBS affiliates in Los Angeles and 14 other cities aired ads for Absolut Vodka during the Grammy Awards broadcast earlier this month, the first time in years that hard-liquor ads have been aired on network television. Such ads have been shown on cable TV for about the last decade, but the volume has tripled between 2001 and 2007, experts say.

Ad buyer Kathy Doyle of Universal McCann said broadcast networks that would have rejected liquor ads a year ago are now giving them serious consideration. “The bottom’s dropped out in the market, and they’re looking for new sources of revenue,” she said.

“We’re looking at a different world than we were three years ago, relative to the economy,” agreed Jim Burke, president of sales for Fox Television Stations, which owns a number of local Fox stations. “We’re looking at a number of categories, trying to find ways to increase our revenue.”

The NBA also has lifted a ban on courtside liquor ads at basketball games, and Google and Facebook also are allowing liquor ads on websites. Facebook allows alcohol ads on pages of users ages 21 and older, while Google allows ads on searches for alcohol-related keywords.

“When you have the evaporation of advertising revenue, you have to look for new and creative ways of getting sellers in the door,” said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council. “It’s coming in the way of adult-themed products and content.”

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