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Estonia - Marketing and advertising

Until 2018 alcohol advertising regulation in Estonia was a rather typical European regulation. In TV and radio, there was an alcohol advertising ban until 21.00 but from there on, alcohol ads were one of the most dominant ads. Outdoor advertising wasn´t allowed for strong alcohol but everything else was fair game. Alcohol industry was sponsoring different cultural and sporting events. Major arenas and sporting facilities were named by alcoholic brands. 

The Alcohol Policy Green Paper, adopted in 2014, envisioned that alcohol advertising in the future  should "allow for only neutral information about the properties of a product to be included and presented in alcohol ads (ruling out the use of people, description of atmosphere and storytelling)." In other words, the French Loi Evin law was set as an example to be followed.

A total ban was on the table when the green paper was discussed, but it wasn´t supported by the majority of participants and it is important to remind that also alcohol industry was included by the Ministry of Social Affairs. A poll in 2015 actually showed that 80 per cent of Estonian residents support banning alcohol advertisements like it has been done with tobacco ads.

Alcohol policy bill which included new regulations for alcohol advertising was finally adopted in December of 2017 and came to force in June 2018. The Advertising Act was amended so that only product-centered and neutral information on the essential characteristics of the product is allowed to be presented in alcohol advertisements. The aim of the amendment is to reduce the impact of alcohol advertisements in the shaping of the values and social norms prevalent in society, especially among minors.

The Advertising Act

Advertising of alcohol may only include the following concerning the product:

1) name;
 2) type;
 3) manufacturer's name;
 4) trade mark;
 5) country of origin;
 6) geographical area;
 7) ethanol content in per cent by volume;
 8) image of sales packaging;
 9) properties (colour, aroma, taste);
 10) serving suggestion.

Information contained in advertising of alcohol must be focused on the product and be presented neutrally. Auditory and visual design of information presented in advertising shall not:
 1) contain a living being, a picture or image thereof in any manner, except for human voice;
 2) contain an animated image of inanimate objects;
 3) incite to buy or consume alcohol;
 4) depict the serving or consumption of alcohol;
 5) link alcohol to any important dates, events, activities or seasons;
 6) otherwise leave an impression that alcohol is a natural part of life and that consumption of alcohol has a positive effect;
 7) link alcohol to driving;
 8) place emphasis on high ethanol content as being a positive quality of beverages;
 9) imitate the voice of well-known persons or characters or the voice of persons or characters known from films, television, music or entertainment programmes or events directed principally at children.

Advertising of alcohol shall include the textual warning: "Tähelepanu! Tegemist on alkoholiga. Alkohol võib kahjustada teie tervist." ["Attention! This is an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol may cause damage to your health."] For the purpose of presenting the textual warning, such font, size and colour shall be used which, given ordinary attention, makes it noticeable, understandable and clearly distinguishable from other information. In printed advertising the health warning shall be presented in black text on white background and the area of the warning, including the background, shall form at least 20 per cent of the total area of the advertising.

Advertising of alcohol is prohibited:

1) in the buildings in the use of pre-school child care institutions, basic schools, upper secondary schools, vocational educational institutions, hobby schools, youth centres, youth associations, permanent camps for the youth and project camps for the youth, except outside schooling and education period when an event for adults takes place in such building;
 2) in the buildings intended for sports, except on the sales premises of alcoholic beverages;
 3) in the buildings of health care and social welfare institutions;
 4) in the buildings of the Defence Forces, the National Defence League and the police;
 5) in the buildings of custodial institutions;
 6) in the buildings of cinemas, museums and performing arts institutions, except on the sales premises of alcoholic beverages;
 7) in printed matter which is directed principally at children or on a page of printed matter where information directed principally at children is published;
 8) at the location and during the time of the events directed principally at children and on the tickets of such events;
 9) at the location intended principally to children for recreational activities;
 10) in television and radio programmes from 7.00 to 22.00;
 11) on video tapes, DVD-s, compact discs or any other data media offered for sale or rent on a retail basis or on the packaging thereof;
 12) on the front and back covers of newspapers or magazines or their additional publications;
 13) as outdoor advertising;
 14) in social media networks, except for on the website and in the social media account of the handler of alcohol.

The following shall be deemed to be prohibited advertising:

1) distribution of a product or printed matter related to alcohol to children;
 2) when offering goods or services for sale or when selling them, the opportunity to get alcohol for free or at a price which is lower than the normal retail price;
 3) when buying alcohol, the opportunity to get products or services for free or at a price which is lower than the normal retail price;
 4) any consumer game, lottery or competition which is linked in the instructions, description, advertising or elsewhere to an alcoholic beverage or its trade mark;
 5) sharing of such information by a handler of alcohol in the social media which has been created by consumers or which contains an incitement to share it.

 (9) The provisions of subsection (4) of this section do not apply to exhibiting a trade mark used to designate alcohol on the sales premises of alcohol.

 (10) A trade mark used to designate alcohol which does not express alcohol or the consumption thereof in words or depict it in picture and which designates also other goods or services in addition to alcohol may be used for the purpose of advertising such goods or services.

Turn to advertise alcohol-free beer

As it was expected and as the experience of some other countries already shows, alcohol producers are using now alcohol-free beer to advertise also beer.


Here is an example. First, there was Karl beer. By Saku Brewery. The slogan says: "The most peaceful beer in the world." What ever that means.

After June 2018 this is not allowed anymore. A short story like this, with emotion, desirable environment, forest, friendship etc - banned. So what does Saku do now? Here is rootbeer (alcohol-free) Karl. Yes, also Karl. And watch if you can find some similarities with the previous clip. And by the way, it´s the most peaceful rootbeer in the world.

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