Liquor Advertising (includes Internet Promotions)
All liquor licensees in British Columbia—this includes bars, pubs, restaurants, licensee retail stores, wineries, breweries and distilleries—are allowed to advertise their products, but they must comply with Liquor Control and Licensing regulations.
For example, licensees may put up signs to advertise their establishments or products, place advertisements in newspapers, magazines and periodicals, or on television, radio or the Internet, and publish pamphlets and brochures. These signs and advertisements may include liquor prices (including specials), hours of sale and the names of liquor manufacturers or brands. They may not:
encourage people to drink liquor or to drink irresponsibly (ads that mention price must take this into account; if a licensee's price advertising encourages or results in patrons drinking to excess, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch can prevent the licensee from including liquor prices in future advertising)
show people drinking liquor, or anyone who is either intoxicated or behaving irresponsibly or illegally
associate liquor with driving
be directed at minors or placed in locations used or visited mostly by minors, such as video arcades and playgrounds
- depict liquor as:
- one of life's necessities
- key to social acceptance or personal success
- central to the enjoyment of an activity, or
- a status symbol.
ads for bars and winery lounges may not use pictures of minors (in BC, that's anyone under the age of 19), or of personalities, images or activities that may appeal to minors
ads for bars, winery lounges and restaurants may not show people with liquor, unless the people have food in front of them
ads for restaurants must make clear that serving food is the restaurant's primary purpose
ads for companies that make beer, wine or spirits may name a liquor store, bar or restaurant where the product is sold, and
ads for companies that make beer, wine or spirits may not be shown on a theatre screen before a movie, if the movie being presented is primarily for a young audience.
Licensed establishments may use the internet as part of their advertising and sales strategy. However, unlicensed internet based retail liquor sales—what are commonly referred to as “virtual liquor stores”—are not permitted.
To be eligible for a liquor licence a person must have a store front operation with a legal interest in the proposed physical site of the business. When there is no physical establishment from which the business would operate (where it is a “virtual” business), the business cannot be issued a liquor licence.
If a Liquor Ad Concerns You
If you see a liquor ad or Internet sales promotion that seems out of line with the Liquor Control and Licensing regulations, please write, call or e-mail the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch Head Office in Victoria. See the how to Contact Us page for contact information.
We will need you to describe the ad—what it was about, where or when you saw it, and what caused you concern.
We will investigate all complaints, and, if we discover the ad violates regulations, we may take enforcement action, such as suspending the licensee's advertising privileges.