Happy Hour Advertising and Unhappy Legal Complications

A recent study showed that men are more creative when drinking beer. Whether this is true or not, the study may lead to bars and restaurants being more bold in advertising their happy hours. Indeed, restaurants and bars are increasingly turning to social media and mobile campaigns to promote happy hour specials. They may advertise on their websites or their Facebook pages, or they may push messaging via cell phones.

 

Happy hour advertising may seem like a great way to draw in traffic, but before you launch your next happy hour advertising campaign, have you checked to see if you are in a state that regulates happy hours or advertising of happy hours or drink specials? Most states allow these practices. Indeed, New Hampshire just changed its law in July, 2011 to permit advertising of happy hours outside of their establishments. Yet, there are some states that still are unhappy with happy hours.

 

Recently, Virginia legislators withdrew a bill that would have enabled Virginia bars and restaurants to advertise drink specials and happy hours on social media. Concerns about underage drinking killed the measure before it even got to a vote. Instead, establishments within Virginia must continue to comply with a statute from the 1980s that prohibits advertising happy hours and drink specials outside the actual venue. It also specifically outlaws such advertising in electronic media, which is defined to include radio, TV, or Internet.

 

Virginia is not alone in prohibiting the advertising of happy hours. In Oregon, for instance, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has a rule that prohibits advertising specific price discounts although a restaurant can advertise a general happy hour. Similarly, Oklahoma prohibits the advertising or offer of a happy hour as a means or inducement to stimulate the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

 

A few states, such as Utah and Massachusetts, have complete bans on happy hours. In March, 2011, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed in law a provision stating that drink specials and happy hours are illegal in the state of Utah. Massachusetts has been struggling with its ban, as bars lobby to have the same rights as casinos, but to date, there have been no updates.

 

Here are best practices for advertising of happy hours:

1)   Stay abreast of changing laws.

2)   If you are a franchisor, you should provide legal updates to your franchisees.

3)   Look closely at the wording of existing statutes. Just because the happy hour itself is legal, does not mean that advertising the happy hour is legal. In addition, there may be restrictions on how or when you can advertise your drink specials or happy hour pricing.

4)   Some states, like California, regulate using alcohol as a prize in a giveaway.

5)   Remember that even if happy hour is lawful, if you are an alcohol producer or distributor, there are different laws that apply to you than to retailers.

6)   Look at the terms and conditions of the social media site in which you wish to advertise. Some may prohibit advertising relating to alcohol in general.

7)   Be careful of advertising more than the price of your drink specials. Any health related statements, such as “lose weight at our low carb beer happy hour”, could be subject to regulation by the Alcohol Beverage Commission of the state. Statements like “I’m more creative when I drink beer” may be problematic, in spite of any scientific studies to the contrary. In general, advertisements related to alcohol are subject to higher scrutiny. Legal counsel should review them before they run.

 

Copyright Kyle-Beth Hilfer, P.C. 2012. Kyle-Beth Hilfer is an advertising and marketing attorney. She regularly advises clients on advertising and marketing strategies, including pricing claims and review of copy for legality. Ms. Hilfer is of Counsel to Collen IP. To contact Ms. Hilfer, please visit her FohBoh profile or tweet her @kbhilferlaw.

 

Views: 1248

Tags: advertising, drinkspecials, happyhours, legal

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Kids LiveWell atwitter over Twitter party

In its continuing effort to promote more nutritious and flavorful children's menu options, the NRA will hold a Twitter party  -More

Starbucks could become top on-premise wine seller in U.S.

Starbucks is planning to slowly expand its evening sales of wine, beer and small plates to thousands of selected stores throu -More

The evolving nature of snacks

Snacks have shifted from an after-school treat to a meal alternative as meal times become more fragmented.  -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Wahlburgers Announces Expansion Plans Including Franchise Agreement in Philadelphia

Wahlburgers has signed a franchise agreement with Hingham Associates, LLC that will bring five Wahlburgers to the metropolitan Philadelphia area over the next several years. The franchise group is actively looking at sites and is targeting a late 2014-early 2015 opening for its first restaurant.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. First Quarter 2014 Revenue Up 24.4%

Comparable restaurant sales increased 13.4% - Restaurant level operating margin was 25.9%, a decrease of 40 basis points

Jamba Juice Announces Grand Opening of New St. Louis, MO Location

Jamba Juice Company announced the brand’s continued expansion in the St. Louis market with the opening of a Jamba Juice® store at 11477 Olive Blvd. on April 16, 2014.

Expert in Real Estate Analytics Joins Luna Grill

Luna Grill, the San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, is welcoming retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team. Thorburn has been brought on board to fill the newly created position of Vice-President of Real Estate.

Rita's Italian Ice Awards Area Development Agreement for Kansas

Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.

CROWD FUNDING

If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.

TED TALKS VIDEO

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

TED: Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be - Norman Spack (2013)

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

TED: Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar - Jennifer Senior (2014)

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service