Vietnam proposes further ban on drinks advertising

The proposed ban is part of the new draft law to reduce the harm of alcoholic beverages (Draft Law) introduced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in April 2018. Vietnam currently bans advertising on wine and spirits (15% alcohol and above) in accordance with its Law on Advertising 2012. The MOH is now proposing to expand the ban to cover beer; promotional and advertising activities would be much more limited under the MOH’s new Draft Law.

Promotion

The Draft Law proposes to ban direct promotion of alcohol to consumers; using alcohol for prizes in contests; provision of complimentary drinks.

Advertising

The Draft Law expands to cover bans of advertising of beer, wine and spirits of both below and above 15% alcohol. Details are as follows:

  • 15% alcohol and above: banned across all advertising.
  • Below 15% alcohol:
    • The ban covers advertising on transportation, transportation construction, outdoor advertising, television programmes and channels, movies and other publications in which there are children, social networks, websites excluding official websites of drinks companies.
    • Advertising on broadcast media is only allowed from 10 pm to 6 am of the following day with a reduction of drinking scenes in movies and television programmes.

Sponsorship

In the Draft Law, the MOH has proposed to restrict drinks companies from carrying out certain sponsorship which used to be very popular. To provide sponsorship, drinks companies must exclude the following activities: 

  1. Must not sponsor cultural, arts, health, education, sports, entertainment events or activities;
  2. Must not provide alcoholic drinks at events as part of the sponsorship
  3. Must not publicise in the media about sponsorship and must not display any brand name on sponsored items.

As the MOH anticipated this would face strong reaction from the F&B community, it also suggests an alternative option of restricting wine and spirit sponsorship only.  The National Assembly will discuss it and decide which option they will select.

The Draft Law has been open for public opinion. The MOH has also hosted some conferences featuring the Draft Law and its intention for a stricter ban of promotional activities. The Draft Law has stirred hot debates between drinks companies and associations. Some notable arguments are:

  • The ban of drinks of under 15% alcohol is contrary to and conflicts with the existing Law on Advertising which only bans advertising of wine and spirits of 15% alcohol and above.
  • The Draft Law’s stricter requirement and bans would affect the economy in terms of F&B Sectors, Investment and Tourism.

It’s worthy to note that Vietnam has been an important market for many foreign brands and they rely on it for global sales growth. As Vietnam’s F&B sectors have been growing strongly, many foreign investors are stepping in and seeking chances to buy shares in local drinks producers, for example Sabeco brewery with the recent significant deal of US$5 billion with Thai Beverage. Vietnam has also improved its trade with Australia thanks to the beer industry. Australia has grown to be the biggest supplier of wheat and malt imports in Vietnam[1].

The Draft Law will be discussed and considered by the Vietnam National Assembly in October 2018.  If the National Assembly agrees with the Draft Law, it will be passed in 2019.

 

 

[1] VOV News, Buzz Kill: As Beer Culture Percolates, Vietnam Weighs Ad Crackdown, [https://www.voanews.com/a/as-beer-culture-percolates-vietnam-weighs-ad-crackdown/4453674.html], last visit: 27 June 2018