Is your distillery adhering to all of the social media guidelines set forth by the Tax and Trade Bureau? Are you aware of the TTBs social media guidelines? In May of 2013, the TTB published its regulations regarding social networking sites and other online presence and promotion aspects. Let’s take a closer look at these guidelines in greater detail.
TTB Advertising Policy Overview
The TTB defines an advertisement as any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction to generate sales. This could be ads in newspapers or magazines, menus, billboards, broadcasts on the radio or TV. This also includes websites and internet-based advertising such as social media.
All advertisements for distilled spirits must have:
- The name & location of the DSP
- The class and type of the spirit
- The alcohol content
- Percentage or neutral spirits & name, if applicable
All advertisements must NOT:
- Contain statements that are false or untrue
- Contain statements that are inconsistent with approved product labels
- Contain false or misleading statements that are disparaging or a competitor's product
- Contain health-related statements that are false or misleading
- Offer misleading guarantees (money-back guarantees are allowed)
Social Network Services
Based on the guidelines, these services include platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. If you create a profile for your distillery on any of these social networks, there are specific protocols that you are directed to follow.
Any social networking “fan pages” or “pages” are categorized as “any other media” based on the TTB’s definition of advertisement; this brings social media under the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act and TTB policies.
The main page and all associated pages and tabs are looked upon as one advertisement. The mandatory statements regarding alcoholic beverages must be:
- readily legible and conspicuous
- clearly part of the advertisement
- apparent to anyone that views the advertisement
While there is no specific location that the mandatory statements are to be placed, the brand is expected to put these statements in an area that viewers would expect to find information about the company.
YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok are examples of video-sharing websites. YouTube, in particular, is one of the most used websites on the internet today; this is why there are so many brands establishing a presence on this platform.
Any channels set up on these platforms—and content therein—also fall under the category of advertisement based on the FAA Act. Therefore, all videos published are considered advertisements and require the same mandatory statements and are restricted from using any prohibited advertising practices.
Microblogs are sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, etc. These platforms differ from typical blogs—which are also considered advertisements under the law—in that the posts on these sites are short. Posts may contain sentence fragments, links to articles or videos, or images.
If the brevity of the content is constricted to a minimal amount of characters, it is impractical to enforce these statements' inclusion in every post; however, mandatory messages must appear in the company profile in a conspicuous and readily legible manner. If the content isn't limited by the number of characters, the post itself must have the mandatory messaging.
It is not uncommon for brands to create mobile apps for their brands; these apps may contain drink recipes, beverage location finders, or information about the brand. The TTB considers these apps to be advertisements. They must follow the mandatory statement and prohibited practices regulations outlined in the guidelines for social media set forth by the Bureau. There are some cases in which the app could be considered consumer specialty advertising, which would put the app in the same category as purchased merchandise. If that's the case, then the statements aren't required.
Upholding your business's legal integrity by following the protocols set forth by the government will keep your distillery operation in good standing. The social media guidelines as outlined by the TTB give a clear direction as to how a distillery is to present itself via online platforms properly. Is your distillery currently in compliance with these regulations?