Surrogate Advertising: Brands that marketed alcohol without marketing the 'alcohol'

Sanya Saxena
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Surrogate advertising

To circumvent rules against the promotion of alcohol, liquor brands integrate other products from their brand portfolio in the narrative, leveraging surrogate advertising. Here are a few surrogate advertising campaigns that conveyed the message smartly.

From water bottles to sodas and music CDs, many liquor/tobacco brands have been using products to duplicate their brand image in order to promote another product of the same brand. This is called Surrogate Advertising. In India, since the ban on advertising liquor products is in force, brands leverage this form of advertising to keep their products active in the minds of customers.

Brands like Imperial Blue, Royal Stag, and Kingfisher have come out with campaigns that do not imply anywhere that they might be an alcohol brand. Imperial Blue's Men Will Be Men campaign has been liked by viewers since its launch. This campaign has been going on for years and is marketed under Imperial Blue Superhits Music CDs.

Not just other products, liquor brands have also leveraged events and programmes. Where Haywards 5000 came up with an entrepreneurship program called Hausla Buland Academy, Absolut held a creative competition catering to people around the world. Dewar's executed a campaign called The Doers Club featuring various stand-up comedians where they learned a new skill from experts.

While some of these ads are innovative and clever, and also provide an advantage to the brand, some consider Surrogate Advertising as unethical and appealing to the youth. It is a slippery slope after all.

Here's a look at some excellent surrogate advertising campaigns below: 

Imperial Blue




Royal Stag


Haywards 5000

Mc Dowells


Also Read: Brand campaigns leverage real-life celebrity couples to tell realistic stories

Johnie Walker

Officer's Choice

Royal Stag


Blenders Pride


Mc Dowells Platinum

If you have spotted a campaign that you feel belongs on this list, please tell us in the comments or write to us at

Kingfisher royal stag Haywards 5000 imperial blue campaigns Imperial blue Men will be men campaign Liquor brand campaigns Liquor brands Surrogate advertising Surrogating advertising campaigns