Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Yellowtail: For when your mother-in-law drives you to drink"

Saw this billboard on my way to work yesterday, just around the corner from Acart. At first, it gave me a snicker (even though I unstereotypically like my in-laws) but then my inner adman kicked in and asked "can they do that?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm an unapologetic social drinker, and I would like to see Canadian society have less bipolar attitudes about alcohol. But I also do corporate social responsibility work for clients in the intoxicant industry, and I know the rules:

Specific brands or types of alcohol can be promoted, but not drinking in general. Advertisements cannot imply that drinking is important for social or business success, athletic prowess, sexuality or sexual opportunity, having fun or achieving a goal. Drinking cannot solve problems. Alcohol advertising must not appeal to people under the drinking age or be placed in media that are targeted at them. Songs that attract minors are not allowed and well-known personalities that appeal to young people are prohibited unless the person is not promoted in the advertisement. Alcohol advertising cannot associate drinking with any activity involving care, skill or physical danger. Links between alcohol and driving motor vehicles or playing some sports fall within this regulation. Finally, advertising cannot suggest illegal activity involving alcohol.

Now, maybe I watch too much old TV, but I'm pretty sure that half of the intent of this ad was to joke about how one's inlaws saty for the holidays can drive one to drink. (The other half being how their leaving is a celebratory occasion.)

Hopefully other people, less beaten down by super-sensitive advertising regulations and policies, will not overthink it this way — they'll just smile knowingly and perhaps remember to stock up. And even if some hall monitor does lodge a complaint, the advertiser can always make a "who me?" face and say that the ad is really saying "Yellowtail is great for entertaining family over the holidays, and great for sipping when it's just the two of you".

But I'm on to you, Yellowtail. Don't worry, though — it's not something a case of Pinot Noir couldn't fix ;)


  1. I actually read the ad's message as, "Cheap wine to serve the people you don't like."

    Of course that suits my relationship to the Yellowtail brand just fine.

  2. Not your relationship with the in-laws though, I hope ;)