Leslie Gevirtz, 1 May 2019

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio banned wine, beer and spirits advertisements on most city-owned property with an executive order that went into immediate effect on Tuesday. The ban will include bus shelters, newsstands and LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks.

Existing ads will remain until their current contracts expire, and they will not be renewed.

“This order banning alcohol ads from city property reaffirms our commitment to health equity and our stand to protect the well-being of all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement.

His office noted that emergency rooms across the city fielded more than 110,000 alcohol-related visits in 2016.

That same year, almost 2,000 residents died from “alcohol-attributable causes,” such as liver disease and traffic fatalities, health officials said.

De Blasio is said to be considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination and the ad ban is receiving national coverage.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is under the control of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, banned alcohol ads from the subways and buses a year ago.

Last year, the city collected about $2.7 million in alcohol ad revenue, and officials said they do not expect to lose any revenue from the ban.

Objections to the ad ban

The Distilled Spirits Council’s Vice President Jay Hibbard called the mayor’s action “misguided and unsupported by the scientific research.”

“In New York, underage drinking has declined by more than 35% over the last 10 years and binge drinking is at an all-time low,” he said, adding that other cities have recently rescinded alcohol advertising bans with “absolutely no negative effects.”

The city’s wine shops and liquor stores will still be able to advertise in their windows and take out ads elsewhere.

Will the ad ban spur business?

Meny Hoffman, chief executive of the Brooklyn-based marketing firm Ptex Group, was unperturbed by the ban and said the mayor’s action would only spur more business. Ptex Group created a bus shelter ad for Bartenura Moscato, playing off the wine’s blue glass bottle.

“The world is going so fast. The medium is changing, and budgets of those brand owners are constantly being shifted and testing new media,” Hoffman said. “What it’s going to do for the industry is to have those people who are still stuck in the same medium on an ongoing basis to try new media.”

He suggested that many brands that repeatedly signed for bus shelter ads will search for other mediums.

“That medium could still be outdoors, but a different display,” Hoffman said, suggesting moving billboards and car wraps.


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