A new California law loosens restrictions on the use of social media
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law A.B. 780, which loosens restrictions on the use of social media by alcohol producers promoting their brands with both on-sale and off-sale retailers by removing the requirement that the communication may only be made in response to a direct inquiry from a customer. Importantly, the bill also states, the “listing of the names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, or Internet Web site addresses, or other electronic media, of two or more unaffiliated on-sale or off-sale retailers selling beer, wine, or distilled spirits produced, distributed, or imported by a nonretail industry member does not constitute a thing of value or prohibited inducement to the listed on-sale or off-sale retailer,…..”
There are still plenty of restrictions, including, (i) producers must list more than one retailer, which may not be under the direct or indirect control of the other; (ii) the listing may not include information on product retail pricing; (iii) the listing is the only reference to the retailer in the communication; and (iv) the communication must have been made, produced, and paid for exclusively by the producer.
Support for the bill was bolstered by the cancellation of the SaveMart Grape Escape in Sacramento after California ABC issued warnings to participants in 2014 that their re-tweeting of the event detail violated the ABC Code. It’s a small step, but one more in the recognition of social media as a valuable and inexpensive tool for small alcohol producers to compete with larger producers and reach customer’s unattainable except through more expensive traditional advertising.