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In 2020, Poles spent over 39 billion zlotys on alcohol of different types. Premium spirits enjoyed considerable popularity – Polish consumers for the first time in history reached for more expensive spirits (whisky, gin, tequila) more often than for cheaper ones. For the owners of alcohol brands it is a clear signal that Poland is a market where it is definitely worth marking its presence. Unfortunately for them, advertising of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in Poland. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Are you planning to conquer the Polish alcohol market? Today we have come up with some tips on how and where you can do it legally! 

Table of contents:

  1. Basic legal regulations
  2. Alcohol advertising in Polish traditional media
  3. Alcohol advertising on the Polish Internet 
    • Company website
    • Social media 
    • Google Ads
    • Cooperation with Polish influencers 
  1. Basic legal regulations

When it comes to legal alcohol advertising, Poland is not one of the simplest markets. According to the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism of October 26th 1982, an alcoholic beverage is a product which contains ethyl alcohol exceeding 0.5% by volume. According to Article 13, advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in Poland. The only exception is beer. However, this does not mean that beer can be promoted without any restrictions.

If you want to advertise a beer brand in Poland, you need to be aware that:

  • Your advertisement must not depict or be directed at minors (i.e. persons under the age of 18).
  • You must not directly encourage excessive alcohol consumption or portray abstinence in a negative way.
  • You must not convince your audience that alcohol has therapeutic or calming properties or is a way to solve personal problems.
  • You must not point out that the high alcohol content in beer affects its quality. 
  • Beer in advertising must not be associated with driving, attractiveness, leisure, learning, work or professional success.
  1. Alcohol advertising in Polish traditional media

Unfortunately, the regulations do not end there. Restrictions also apply to the time and place of advertising, as well as to its appearance. This is particularly important in the case of advertising in traditional media, such as radio, television, the press, or outdoor advertising. 

What are these restrictions?

  • Alcohol may only be advertised on the radio, television, in cinemas and theatres between 20:00 and 6:00 (with the exception of advertising by the organiser during a sports event).
  • There is a total ban on advertising beer in the youth and children’s press and on the covers of newspapers and magazines.
  • On billboards and poles (as well as other outdoor advertising), 20% of the advertising space must be occupied by clear and legible inscriptions informing about the harmfulness of alcohol and the ban on selling alcohol to minors.
  • No minors may appear in beer advertisements. 

Beer, however, is not the end of exceptions when it comes to outdoor advertising. All alcoholic beverages, even the high-alcohol ones, can be advertised without any restrictions in:

  • wholesalers,
  • separate stalls for the sale of alcohol,
  • points intended exclusively for the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages (e.g. bars).
  1. Alcohol advertising on the Polish Internet 

Does this mean that in Poland it is impossible to reach customers with marketing materials about vodka, wine or whisky? No! There is another legal distinction which is often used by marketers, especially in social media. According to the act, an advertisement is a message which has been “made available to the public”, i.e. addressed to an unlimited number of people. Activities carried out in social media and addressed to a closed and defined group of people may be considered as non-public advertising. 

What is non-public advertising? It is a marketing message addressed to a precisely defined and predetermined number of people. This opens the door to marketing activities – for example on Facebook, Instagram, a company website or in cooperation with influencers. 

Company website

A company website is the easiest way to “circumvent” the alcoholic beverages advertising ban. According to the Act, non-public advertising messages can be directed to all persons who agree to it. So if someone voluntarily enters the website, they are making a conscious decision. All you need to do is set age verification at the entrance – 18 and over.

https://www.ballantines.com/pl-PL  Age verification message on Ballantines brand website 

Social Media

The first stairs are already appearing in Polish social media. For we have to comply not only with the Polish law, but also with the internal regulations of each platform. And while organic (i.e. free of charge) communication of alcohol brands on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is legal (as long as we set the visibility of posts only for adults), the possibilities of paid advertisements are somewhat limited. 

Organic activities of the Polish alcohol brand Wódka Wyborowa on Facebook
Source: https://www.facebook.com/wyborowapolska/posts/5165894450104688

On Facebook, for example, advertising should not directly urge people to drink alcohol. Instagram is much less precise. In the terms and conditions you will only find information that the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Many companies take advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves on this platform, but in the profile description they state that the posts are intended for persons over 18. Twitter, on the other hand, prohibits the advertising of alcoholic beverages. Exceptions are alcohol accessories such as glasses or shakers. The most restrictive platform in this respect is TikTok. This is due to the young age of the users – in Poland almost 90% of TikTok users are minors. It is absolutely forbidden to promote alcoholic beverages on TikTok.   

Google Ads 

Google’s terms of service are more specific and clearly state how the advertising of alcoholic beverages within the Google ecosystem (this includes not only search ads, but also YouTube ads, among others) is handled. It contains a list of countries to which such advertisements may be directed. Poland is not on this list. Fortunately, it can be circumvented.

How? The content of such advertisements may refer to the brand itself, but without presenting product photos, logos, trademarks, graphics or alcohol packaging (such as caps). In the case of brands that already exist in the minds of consumers, this works quite well.

Polish influencer marketing

Establishing cooperation with Polish influencers is quite a popular trend in the alcohol industry. One of the most common cooperation models here is product placement in YouTube videos. The platform allows the publication of alcohol-related content, but under three conditions

  1. The first is to set an age limit for the audience. In short, such a film should only be accessible to people over the age of 18. 
  2. Secondly, such material must be educational, documentary, scientific or artistic in nature. This is why alcohol brands often collaborate with podcasts or YouTube shows with a TV format. 
  3. Thirdly, a link to the website selling the product must not appear in the content, description or comments. So you cannot require the creator to link to your website. 

When it comes to the message itself, there are several possibilities – the Polish influencer can talk about the product directly or just include your logo or advertising sign in the background of the video.

An example of product placement on YouTube – Tyskie beer brand on Kanał Sportowy 
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mui9GgejmWQ&ab_channel=Kana%C5%82Sportowy

As you can see, the alcohol industry in Poland is not one of the easiest sectors to advertise in. In most cases, the best results are obtained by cooperating with a Polish advertising agency which helps foreign brands conquer the Polish market – by means of organic activities, Internet advertising, but also traditional advertising. If you are looking for an experienced agency, contact us. We have the best specialists in social media.