Surrogate advertising is a form of advertising which is used to promote banned products, like cigarettes and alcohol, in the disguise of another product. This type of advertising uses a product of a fairly close category, as: club soda, mineral water in case of alcohol, or products of a completely different category (for example, music CD's or playing cards) to hammer the brand name into the heads of consumers. The banned product (alcohol or cigarettes) may not be projected directly to consumers but rather masked under another product under the same brand name, so that whenever there is mention of that brand, people start associating it with its main product (the alcohol or cigarette). In India there is a large number of companies doing surrogate advertising, from Bacardi Blast music CD's, Bagpiper Club Soda to Officers Choice playing cards.
Surrogate advertising Wikipedia
It is said that birth of surrogate advertising happened in Britain, where housewives started protesting against liquor advertisements which provoked their husbands. The protest rose to a level where liquor advertising had to be banned and brand owners seeing no way out decided to promote fruit juices and soda under the brand name; the concept later emerged as surrogate advertisements.
In India, extensive surveys resulted in similar findings which showed that liquor ads had direct influence on consumers' purchasing behavior. Soon afterwards, the Cable TV Regulation Act banned liquor and cigarette advertisements; thus, India gradually adopted surrogate advertisements.
Advertisements for liquor and cigarettes have been banned since 1995. Such companies usually either go for brand extension and promote the extended products, or promote certain products which might not be available in the market. The excessive pressure of the ban forced companies to focus more on brand building and thus liquor companies started sponsoring and hosting glamorous events, yet many others started distributing t-shirts, caps, key chains, drinking glasses with the brand name displayed on these products.
Surrogate advertising mandates a requirement for the product being marketed to have a revenue model associated with it.
According to the inferences drawn from several surveys and interviews, 50 out of 50 people can understand the actual liquor or tobacco product being advertised.
Surrogate advertisements do impact a consumer's buying decision as well. They also inform consumers about the leading liquor brands and thus promote sales.
With government now enforcing ban on surrogate advertisements, companies are turning to event sponsorship, event organising, corporate films and more and more innovative integrated marketing communications strategies.