Advertising is vital for successful brand building. Restrictions on alcohol advertising stifle the domestic market by hampering competition between brands. A strong brand is also necessary in exports. Although Finland is a strong market for alcoholic beverages, it is in decline. This means that the industry must invest more in product development, make products that interest Finns and seek growth from exports.
In European terms, alcohol advertising is subject to exceptionally strict restrictions in Finland. Without advertising, it is difficult to create new brands. A strong brand builds an interesting and attractive image that enables a product to stand out in the highly competitive market.
The advertising of alcoholic beverages does not increase consumption; instead, in a mature market, it is how different players compete for market share. In Finland, the advertising spend on beers, ciders, long drinks and wines in 2014 amounted to EUR 7.7 million.
“Sinebrychoff started exporting Karhu beer to China at the end of last year. The brand has a strong Finnish image. We can create stories and value for products only if we’re permitted to advertise them,” says Pekka Tiainen, Chairman of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry and CEO of Sinebrychoff.
Due to the heavy restrictions on alcohol advertising in Finland, different product advertising campaigns have to be created for the domestic and export markets. This is not profitable and unnecessarily increases export costs.
Alcohol advertising restrictions should be changed in the comprehensive reform of the Alcohol Act
The Alcohol Act is undergoing a comprehensive reform. The brewing industry considers it important to review the section on advertising in the Act – and to restore it to what it was before the amendments made in 2015. The amendments to the Alcohol Act did not account for the prerequisites for businesses to function in a competitive market. The alcohol administration has stated that it cannot oversee compliance with the law. Furthermore, not all of the restrictions are clear to businesses, even now.
“The restrictions on alcohol advertising are a model example of the kind of overregulation that the government is dismantling in its spearhead project. Alcohol consumption among young people has declined during the whole of the 2000s and alcohol advertisements were permitted only when Finland joined the EU in 1995. Concealment and obfuscation are not the road to a more sensible drinking culture,” says Elina Ussa, Managing Director of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry.
Tighter restrictions on advertising were introduced at the beginning of 2015. Mild alcoholic beverages cannot be advertised in public places. In Finland, trademarks on delivery vehicles have been interpreted as outdoor advertising and banned, which is exceptional in Europe. Advertisements are also prohibited on television and radio between 7 am and 10 pm, and in the format of prize draws and competitions. In addition, companies may not use materials produced by consumers in social media channels.
Managing Director Elina Ussa, tel. +358 (0)45 269 7711
Communications Manager Outi Heikkinen, tel. +358 (0)50 370 8677
The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry promotes the interests of producers of beer, cider, long drinks, soft drinks and mineral waters in Finland. Its members are Captol Invest Oy, Oy Hartwall Ab, Olvi Oyj, Red Bull Finland Oy, Saimaan Juomatehdas, and Oy Sinebrychoff Ab. The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry operates in connection with the Finnish Food and Drink Industries Federation and represents Finland’s fourth largest industry in the food and drink branch in terms of the value of production.