There is a worthwhile discussion in the public square today about if and how liquor marketers should be allowed to advertise on TV and the Internet. On one side of the argument is the industry which rightly cites the first amendment. On the others side is a mixed bag of parents groups, politicians, the AMA, some academics, etc. who complain that TV ads and easy access to Net advertising and websites will encourage under-age drinking.
Into this debate rides the Chivas Regal brand with ChivasTV at http://thisisthelife.msn.com/, an online channel dedicated to extending the brand?? long-running ??his is the Life?campaign. There are a series of videos. One video features an attractive woman—think Giada DeLaurentis—I have never heard of, named Paola, who cooks aboard a yacht. There is salsa music, shapely girls with their boyfriends toasting with Chivas. In another Paolo takes us via video to a New York City cigar store where they hand-roll the product. Paola then takes us to a custom shoe store. It’s scintillating stuff. Not! It’s more like a worse version of De Laurentis on the Food Network. And I didn’t think that was possible. Oops. There goes my last chance to be asked as a judge on Iron Chef America.
Chivas TV is an issue because of the hoopla around Bud TV, an equally bad collection of video programming put up by Anheuser-Busch for the Bud brand.
There is advertising for liquor and beer that is really bad and bawdy. And there are instances in which it winds up in magazines or on TV programming with a decent chance of having an under-age consumer see it. It happens. Most often it happens because there is a marketer behind it who is not a member of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and is thus not bound by the trade group’s ad rules.
But here is why I can’t quite get agitated about Chivas TV. First, under-age drinkers don’t drink Chivas. It’s not even a brand whose site would draw many under-age drinkers, I’m thinking…if any. Beyond that, I have yet to meet the male or female under age-21 who would be remotely interested in sitting through this dreck. They are too busy on websites like www.myspace.com or www.facebook.com and the like. These videos look like screen-tests for some Food Network or Travel Channel show that didn’t make the first cut.
I think online video for brands is a medium really going some place. But Chivas TV sets the genre back about five years. Chivas is a helluva nice Scotch. This work doesn’t live up to the brand. And If anti liquor advertising advocates are going to single out a campaign, at least single one out that under-age drinkers might actually watch.