Restrictive regulations in Poland regarding advertising of alcoholic beverages create numerous problems for the alcohol industry. In principle, alcohol cannot be advertised. Beer is treated exceptionally, advertising of beer is permitted but it is subject to significant restrictions.
The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) verdict brings new explanations in the context of the so called "Beer tax". It is an established standpoint of administrative courts, that action aimed at public dissemination of trademarks of alcoholic beverages is considered to be advertising. In this particular case the SAC had to make a decision whether placing a beer logo on distributors' glasses and washers for those glasses constitutes a provision of advertising services by the claimant. In the SAC opinion, such activity constitutes advertising services. The SAC in its ruling explicitly stated that any reproduction of the beer trademark or graphic symbols associated with it, as well as the names and graphic symbols of entrepreneurs producing beers, constitutes advertising. This applies to trademarks put on glasses and washers as well as beer taps. SAC also explained how to apply the so-called "Beer tax", a fee for advertising of alcoholic beverages, according to Art. 13 of the Act on Education in Sobriety. In virtue of this provision, entities providing services consisting in advertising of alcoholic beverages incur a fee of 10% of the VAT base resulting from this service. According to the judgement, not only placing advertising posters, but also hanging plafonds with the beer trademark in front of a bar, issuing beer washers, displaying equipment marked with the producer's logo, all constitutes alcohol advertising.
The other ruling was given by the Committee for Ethics in Advertising (the Committee) in a matter concerning a complaint about online advertising on a Facebook profile of a beer brand owned by a well-known Polish producer. The beer advertisement used the image of a teenager combined with the text: "I drank 7 beers yesterday - I did not send a single text to my ex" and was broadcasted as a post on the producer's Facebook profile. In the opinion of the Adjudication Board, the contested beer advertisement was not conducted with respect of sense of social responsibility and in accordance with decency. According to the final decision, the advertiser did not exercise due diligence by checking whether it is possible to share this meme with other persons, including minors through the so-called re-shares . The Committee emphasized that when examining ads in social media, it consistently applies the same principles as in the case of examining traditional advertising messages. However, due to the nature of the Internet, the Committee takes into account additional issues, i.e. the level of security used by the entrepreneur to prevent unauthorized access to advertising. It should be examined whether access to fan page requires registration, or is it possible to search for a fan page of a given brand by unregistered people, including minors, but also whether the entrepreneur acted with due diligence, while checking whether it is possible to share the advertising message through the so-called re-sharing with other unregistered persons, including minors. Summing up, it must be remembered by entities from the alcohol industry running their fan pages in Poland that social media advertising is subject to the same restrictions as traditional advertising.
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