Proposed ban may stop wine adverts

Marlborough wine brands may be forced to stop most of their advertising if a proposed alcohol advertising ban goes ahead.

Wine industry leaders say the industry could lose the ability to advertise products if the Government adopts the 14 recommendations put forward by a ministerial forum in relation to alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

The recommendations include a ban on all alcohol sponsorship for sports, a ban on alcohol sponsorship for cultural and music events, where 10 per cent or more of guests are under the age of 18, and a ban on alcohol advertising in general, including social media, where 10 per cent or more of the audience are under 18. The purpose of the forum is to work out whether restrictions would reduce harmful use of alcohol.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said if the recommendations were adopted it would have a huge impact on wine producers in the region.

"If you take it to the extreme it would really limit the abilities of the wine companies to advertise their products. It would be an impediment to their business.

"I don't think people will stop buying wine . . . but it will be an impediment and detriment to their businesses."

Marlborough's wine industry had a lot of involvement in the community, including the sponsorship of events, and it would be a shame to see that disappear, Pickens said.

"Worst case scenario it could be quite restrictive on wine producers being able to sponsor events, which could have a potential impact on the community as well. It could be quite far reaching.

"When you start to total up the number of dollars involved in sponsoring, it's pretty colossal what they [wineries] contribute to Marlborough."

The proposed recommendations could force wineries to increase their advertising in overseas markets, and put the domestic market to one side, Pickens said.

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While he understood the recommendations were about reducing the harmful use of alcohol, he felt the industry was already proactive in addressing that.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said

most people consumed wine in a socially responsible manner.

There was insufficient evidence to show further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship would reduce alcohol-related harm, Gregan said.

Gregan was unsure of the financial implications if the recommendations were adopted.

However, in a submission written on behalf of New Zealand Winegrowers, Gregan said there would be a loss to the overall sponsorship pool, a loss of contribution to events that promote New Zealand, a loss of offshore promotional opportunities and it would limit the ability of wine producers to differentiate their brands and products.

New Zealand wineries were also at the forefront of researching low alcohol wines, he said.

The ministerial forum, who made the recommendations, is made up of six members and chaired by former rugby league football coach Graham Lowe, and was established by the Government in February last year.

They presented a report to Justice Minister Amy Adams and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne last December.

The report said the forum was not unanimous in all recommendations and there was a view that there was not enough evidence to justify the breadth of the bans.

Wine Marlborough teamed up with Destination Marlborough and the Marlborough District Council in March to present a joint case to ministry representatives. Pickens said their concerns would be presented to Adams and Dunne later this month and to Cabinet in June.

 - The Marlborough Express

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