Budweiser, the popular beer brand owned by AB InBev, has been reportedly fined the third time in mainland China for violating advertising law this year.
According to Shanghai’s market watchdog, Budweiser China was fined RMB 250,000 (US$39,110) for showcasing the act of drinking in its over 6-minute long advertising video and text on its verified Weibo account “Hoegaarden01” in May.
The content under scrutiny included a drinking action after clinking glasses appearing at the end of a video, a 3-second motion picture of drinking action and a photo of a female blogger drinking wine in an event.
These contents have violated Article 23 (2) of the Advertising Law of People’s Republic of China, which states that advertisements on liquor shall not contain any description of an act of drinking. The article is a part of the new advertising law adopted in 2015 that imposes stricter controls on advertisers and prohibits disruptive advertising tactics.
This is not the first time Budweiser China failed the advertisement law. In May, the brewery was reportedly fined RMB 200,000 (US$31,289) for falsely claiming to use “all natural raw materials” for its products.
In the same month, the brewer was fined RMB 600,000 (US$93,866) for releasing advertisements containing obscene, horrible and violent content on social media, which it later revealed was a Halloween post from last October.
Budweiser is not the only company that received punishment this year. In September, French wine giant Castel Frères was handed a fine of RMB 200,000 (US$30,929) for using phrases such as “best ripeness”, “best quality” and “most advanced technology” in advertisements.
Earlier in July, two Chinese wine companies were fined over RMB 20,000 (US$3,129) for using Chinese leaders in ads.
Wine industry insiders may need to level up the awareness towards their advertising content as even the biggest players from other industries are no exception under China’s strict law enforcement.
Previously, Sony Group’s Chinese subsidiary was fined RMB 1 million (US$156,443) for planning a product launch event on the anniversary of the Sino-Japanese clash day in 1937.
China’s two largest short video-sharing apps Douyin and Kuaishou have each been punished with a RMB 200,000 (US$31,289) fine for publishing micro loan advertisements that encouraged “excessive consumption”.
The series of stringent enforcement on advertisement campaigns came along with China’s regulatory crackdown in various sectors including tech giants, private education institutions, entertainment circles and gaming firms.