The National Football League (NFL) has lifted the liquor advertising ban after making a change of the advertising policy that would enable advertisers to feature hard-liquor products on commercials for spirits industry in the upcoming 2017 season, according to a report by Wall Street Journal last week Friday.

The NFL noted in a memo that the television networks -- ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC -- will broadcast alcohol brands on 30-second spots in pregame and postgame programs.

Whiskey, vodka, rum and other spirits will be included in advertisements this season. The league will have to deliver a "prominent social responsibility message," and cannot allow liquor companies to target underage consumers.

The league's new policy is believed to become permanent, according to a report.

Liquor seen as social acceptance as beer

As the NFL has lifted the spirits advertising ban, there is a concern that beer brands continue to lose beer consumers to liquor brands.

The data conducted by Nielsen displayed that the beer's share of the market dipped to 50 percent in 2016 from 58 percent in 2003, while spirits brands leaped up to 32 percent from 28 percent.

Since the liquor is viewed as a part of social acceptance, the NFL begins to embrace hard-liquor companies that are able to market products on TV commercials. In Kantar Media's approximate estimates, hard-liquor companies have spent about $411 million on advertising to reach the spirits market last year.

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"This is welcome news but not too surprising given spirits companies have partnered with individuals NFL teams, and other major professional sports leagues began accepting spirits advertising more than a decade," Kraig Naasz, the president, and CEO of Distilled Spirits Council, said. "Adult fans realize alcohol is alcohol and our responsible spirits sports marketing has been met with broad public acceptance."

NFL's banned products on ads

There is the list of NFL's banned advertising categories in which marketers are not allowed to promote banned products on TV networks, including condoms or other forms of birth control.

Prior to Super Bowl LI game, the NFL rejected GNC's plan to promote nutrition and dietary supplement-related products on a 30-second commercial. The Fox broadcasting company informed GNC that the league could not accept some banned products, which have been sold at GNC retailers. The NFL Player Association (NFLPA) formed on a memo warning against a business association with retailers that endorses banned substances.

As younger fans are among the world's most enthusiastic consumers of advertising, NFL doesn't want advertisers and companies to target millennial consumers in a negative approach. Thus, the league plans to manage restriction in advertisements from energy drink brands, vitamin and supplement retailers, casinos or hotels (which usually promote gambling in ads) and video gaming publishers (which occasionally promote violent games in ads).

Revenue opportunities

During the 20th century, the liquor advertisements were frequently not seen on local or national TV. But as the NFL has already turned out to be one of the most popular sports leagues in America for decades, hard-liquor marketers can discover revenue opportunities for the league as well as for cable networks.

"NFL teams have been doing sponsorship deals with hard liquor (with restrictions), so it was just a matter of time that it was acceptable on television," a former ad-buying executive of a major brewer said.

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