Shining a light on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

Yesterday evening, after 3 years of being in front of the Oireachtas, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill officially passed all stages in Dáil Éireann. Although this is of no shock to anyone that’s been following the news of the Bill since it’s proposal, there are some repercussions for us as Digital Marketeers.

First, while the bill does not have any direct implications on digital yet, there is likely to be a knock-on effect for digital and social content. New restrictions could see brands shift their marketing budget from traditional media such as radio, TV, & print to digital and social platforms. Increased budgets for digital is good news, but with this comes a requirement for digital to offset reduced impact of traditional mediums. It will also be important that production budgets increase, as well as creative expectations, to help enable digital content to have the same consistent impact as the best ATL.

Secondly, with certain restrictions within the Bill making it harder to tell stories around an alcohol product, the story telling should gravitate to finding a natural home in a digital environment. This will hopefully encourage clients to empower agencies to maximise the interactive and engagement characteristics innate to digital.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we can obviously expect to see similar legislation being enacted across digital in the not too distant future. Digital may be more difficult to regulate, but it will still happen.

The pattern we have seen in other countries such as Lithuania, which has a complete alcohol advertising ban that includes digital media, is that the first step is always broad strokes. But it is always just the first step.

With this in mind, it is important for us to start preparing now. Brand recall and top-of-mind awareness should be KPIs we use to measure how we would fare in a darker market.

Winter is coming.

By Anne Zahan, Oct 2018