Advertising – Alcohol Beverage Advertising

What is an advertisement?

The TTB regulations define the term "advertisement" as any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction, which is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce, or is disseminated by mail.  Examples include ads in newspapers, magazines, trade booklets, menus, wine cards, leaflets, circulars, mailers, book inserts, catalogs, promotional materials, or sales pamphlets.  Also included are internet or other electronic sites or social networks, or any written, printed, graphic, or other matter (such as hang tags) accompanying, but not firmly affixed to, the container, representations made on shipping cases, or on any billboard, sign, or other outdoor display, public transit card, other periodical literature, publication, or in a radio or television broadcast.  

As mentioned above, TTB considers social media advertising for alcohol beverages as advertisements under these sections.  Examples of social media advertising include social networking services such as Facebook, media sharing sites such as YouTube and Instagram, weblogs or “blogs”, microblogs such as Twitter, mobile apps, links, and QR codes.  Since industry member’s social media accounts for alcohol beverages are advertisements, all advertising regulations apply.  In TTB Industry Circular 2013-1, Use of Social Media in the Advertising of Alcohol Beverages, we provide additional guidance to assist industry members in complying with the regulations when using social media to advertise their products.

Does TTB approve alcohol beverage advertisements?

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act does not require alcohol beverage advertisements to be approved prior to appearing in print or broadcast.  TTB does, however, offer industry members, free of charge, a voluntary advertising pre-clearance service.  To submit an advertisement for pre-clearance review, you may email it to market.compliance@ttb.gov.

What information is required on an alcohol beverage advertisement?

With few exceptions, the following information is required on advertisements of alcohol beverages:

Wine (27 CFR 4.62):

  • Name and address (city and State) of the permittee responsible for the advertisement; and
  • Class, type or distinctive designation to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label.  For example:
    • Red wine, White wine, Sparkling wine; or
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay; or
    • Champagne, Bordeaux; or
    • Red wine with natural flavors.
  • Consumer specialty items, including t-shirts, hats, bumper sticker, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.

Distilled Spirits (27 CFR 5.233):

  • Name, city, and State or the name and other contact information (such as, telephone number, website, or email address) where the responsible advertiser may be contacted;
  • Class and type to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label.  For example:
    • Whisky, Gin, Brandy; or
    • Vodka, Bourbon Whiskey, Cognac; or
    • Neutral spirits with natural flavor and caramel color;
  • Alcohol content shown as percent alcohol by volume (proof may be shown as additional information); and
  • Percentage of neutral spirits and name of commodity, as required for certain distilled spirits.
  • Consumer specialty items, including t-shirts, hats, bumper sticker, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.  

Malt Beverages (27 CFR 7.233):

  • Name, city, and State or the name and other contact information (such as, telephone number, website, or email address) where the responsible advertiser may be contacted; and
  • Class to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label.  For example:
    • Lager, Ale, Stout;
    • Raspberry Ale, Stout brewed with pumpkin and cinnamon.
  • Consumer specialty items, including t-shirts, hats, bumper sticker, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.  

Learn more about the advertising regulations listed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for: wine (27 CFR part 4, subpart G), distilled spirits (27 CFR part 5, subpart N), and malt beverages (27 CFR part 7, subpart N).

What is prohibited from appearing in an alcohol beverage advertisement?

For a complete listing of prohibited practices, please see -

  • Wine - 27 CFR 4.64
  • Distilled Spirits - 27 CFR 5.235
  • Malt Beverages - 27 CFR 7.235

Monitoring Advertisements in the Marketplace

TTB monitors the advertising of alcohol beverages through a combination of:

  • Pre-clearance of advertising material - At the industry member's request, we review the member's advertisement for compliance with the appropriate advertising regulations. This service is offered at no charge.
  • Referrals and/or complaints - Review of advertisements for compliance when the general public, other government agencies, an employee within TTB, or another industry member refers to us an advertisement that they believe is in violation of our laws and regulations.
  • Internal selections for review - TTB market compliance specialists independently select advertisements from a variety of media and review those advertisements for compliance with the advertising regulations.

Advertisement Complaints

If you have a complaint about an advertisement that you feel is in violation of TTB regulations, you may send an email to Market.Compliance@ttb.gov.

Advertising Resources

Below is a list of resources on advertising.

 

Green icon with a white phone. CONTACT US

For questions about TTB's advertising requirements, contact the Market Compliance Office at 202-453-2251 (option 4) or by fax at 202-453-2873, or by email at Market.Compliance@ttb.gov.

Please direct correspondence to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Assistant Director, Trade Investigations Division
Market Compliance Office
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005

 

Page last reviewed: January 14, 2015
Page last updated: May 11, 2022
Maintained by: Market Compliance Office