Liquor Store Advertising: Oregon Partnership’s Warnings


Pete Schulberg, Communications Director of Oregon Partnership, testified this week before a hearing of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission on an amendment of  a rule governing the liquor store advertising.

Schulberg warned that liquor advertising is “a run-away train” that doesn’t need more support from the state:

Having been involved in advertising in one way or another for most of my professional life, I’d like to just make it clear: 

Although the proposed amendment to the Retail Liquor Store Advertising rule is relatively specific about what the stores can do or can’t do and how they must be based on the standards contained in the Retail Operations Manual….I think we must all remember that advertising is a moving target. And just when we think we have it figured out, here comes the online universe. 

Advertising distribution has never been more diverse thanks to the social media…but I guarantee you, next year, we’ll be sitting here and Twitter will be old hat.  The digital media is moving so fast that no one can keep up.

So my point is that advertising of alcohol has never in the history of the world been more diverse, more effective, and more pervasive in our society.  Distilled spirits are being advertised all across cable TV.  And that old message of parents should control what their kids are watching: Forget about it. I’m watching a sporting event with my kids, and we are deluged with commercials for everything from vodka to whisky.

At Oregon Partnership, we have had some great relationships with Oregon’s liquor store agents.  We have partnered with them and with the OLCC..and certainly, they should be allowed to have signage near their stores….and even the products they sell on their websites.

But beyond that, we should all realize that the research about alcohol advertising and marketing is a slam dunk and clearly shows that alcohol advertising and marketing have a significant impact on decisions to drink by teenagers and underage drinkers.

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth can show us study after study of the direct correlation between the amount of alcohol advertising and how often and how much young people drink.

And I don’t have to tell you where young people, those who are under 21, college students – are getting their information, are seeing the ads, are reading the posts…..ON THE INTERNET.  And in addition to problem drinkers, the demographic that is the most price-sensitive to deciding what alcohol to buy…is the under-21 demographic.

 So when we hear that prices may be included on liquor store websites, we at Oregon Partnership say that’s going to be more teens checking it out on line…more teens shopping for alcohol on line…and more problems for all of us ahead. And who more than anyone is going to be shopping for alcohol prices on line: College students….18, and 19 and 20 year old college students.

Again, there is more advertising of alcohol than ever.  It is more effective and pervasive than ever.  So when we can realistically and legally somehow put a halt to this runaway train, we should.


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