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Seoul City issues plea on celebrity liquor ads

Seoul Metrolitan Government has asked alcohol, advertisement and entertainment firms to refrain from using pop stars in alcohol advertisements.

The city will send out letters to liquor makers, advertisement companies and entertainment agencies Tuesday, asking them to reconsider their marketing strategies, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.

“Becoming a pop star is ranked as the No. 2 future dream of our children. We believe that hiring pop stars, who exert great influence on teens, for alcoholic beverages is tantamount to dereliction of their duty to protect the future generation,” said Kim Kyung-ho, a city official.

The city, which has no authority over alcohol advertisements, said it “hopes” that its plea prompts related industries to reflect on themselves and correct their practices.

“If that doesn’t happen, we will have to seek what we can do to induce a chance,” Kim said. The actions could include requesting tax investigations into defiant companies.

The number of alcohol advertisements appearing on TV, radio and print media from January through November this year numbered 189,566, or 574 commercials per day on average, the city said, citing Nielsen Media Research’s data.

Of 22 models who appear in major alcohol ad campaigns, 17 are pop stars, it said. More than 93 percent of the ads were beer ads. Eighty-five percent of them are aired on cable TV.

Domestic liquor makers are waging a full-scale marketing war, hiring popular celebrities in their ad campaigns. Recently, Lotte Liquor, the nation’s second-largest maker of soju, released a TV commercial in which members of three top-ranking girl groups face off in a dance battle. The authorities banned showing of the clip to those under 19.

Korea regulates the time when alcohol ads can be shown on television, but it is not against the law to use pop stars as models.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)
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