18 May 2019

Ethiopia: Gag On Anbessa Beer Commercial Prelude to Wholesale Ban On Brewery Industry

The newest entrant into the brewery market, Anbessa Beer, faced a setback shortly after its initial launch following a ban on its main advertisement in the media.

The advertisement was banned after a letter was sent by the Ethiopian Trade Competition & Consumer Protection Authority (ETCCPA) on May 14, 2019. In the letter sent to the state TV broadcaster, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Ethiopian Broadcast Authority, the ETCCPA alleged that the current advertisement of the brewer created an uncompetitive environment.

While Anbessa's promotional materials claim that the beer is brewed for "visionaries," there is no scientific or practical evidence that proves it indeed has such benefits, reads the letter. The Authority deemed that such advertisement gives the brewer an unfair advantage over its competitors and creates confusion among consumers.

"All the stakeholders should feel responsible and loyal to the law before airing such confusing ads," said Alqadir Ibrahim, communication affairs director at the Authority.

The ban of Anbessa's advertisement though has created confusion within both the beer industry and among marketing strategists.

"All the company did was fulfill its mission of attracting attention through electronic media before the stricter enforcement of alcohol use and sales became effective," said an industry insider that talked to Fortuneon the condition of anonymity.

Parliament has recently passed a bill that tightens the use and sale of alcohol and tobacco, which will become effective on May 21, 2019. The amended law prohibits the advertisement of alcoholic substance through the use of commercial broadcasting and raises the minimum drinking age to 21, from 18.

Anbessa, a product of United Beverages, created by a joint venture between Kangaroo Industrial Group and United Africa Beverages Company, is the only alcoholic beer to launch after the passing of the bill. Brewed in Modjo, Oromia Regional State with an investment of 88 million dollars, it has a brewing capacity of 1.6 million hectolitres and a packaging capacity of 800,000 hectolitres a year.

With Anbessa, Ethiopia's booming beer market has six local and international companies that produce 16.1 million hectolitres a year.

Tewodros Girma, president of Ethiopian Outdoor Adverting Association and owner of Avast Advertising & Engineering, believes that decisions will raise further questions on the brand slogan of other breweries and the way advertisements have been running in the country for a long time.

"With no clear line drawn on the law of branding and advertisement, it is not fair to ban the commercials of the brewer," he says, insisting that this is a personal view and not representative of any institution.

Alazar Ahmed, marketing expert in the brewery industry for more than a decade, agrees, saying that the company took bold steps to capture attention.

"What the Authority did is overbearing," he says. "How 'being visionary' can be proven scientifically is beyond me."

This story has been edited from its first publication with the correction that ban on promotion of alcohol drinks through commercial broadcast media is not limited between 6:00am and 9:00pm as was originally reported.

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