Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FWWS Comments on Advertising Rules

The following comments were submitted to the WSLCB in response to a formal hearing notice on advertising rules. You may recall a post on the same subject earlier this year. At that point, the LCB staff was running some ideas up a flagpole as it were to get some general feedback on areas for rulemaking. Based on that input from FWWS and other stakeholders, the original draft language was substantially refined into the now formal version that is going through the hearing process.

Areas that the LCB has already amended that address our concerns include:
  • Clarifying that the prohibition on presenting wine as fashionable appliesonly to wine being portrayed as fashionable for those under age 21.
  • Exempting winery, brewery and tasting room premises (technically "non retail" premises) from the restrictions on number and size of signs.
  • Eliminating the depictions of known sports figures from wine (ie Mario Andretti, Greg Norman, any famous amateur athlete, etc.).
  • Exempting wine tour directional signs from the proximity to school churches playfield restrictions.
We remain concerned about two areas as noted in the following comments. I addition to the suggestions made in our letter, we have also discussed the issue of premise signs within 500 feet of schools churches and playfields with LCB Staff. Since the issue of concern seems to relate primarily to offsite billboards., we have suggested that an additional option would be to exempt winery, brewery and tasting room (non retail premise) signs from these restrictions as well.

We are generally pleased with the pragmatic and thoughtful approach of WSLCB staff in addressing our specific concerns. Stay tuned!

Family Wineries of Washington State is an organization presently representing the interests of more than ninety small Washington Wineries. We were pleased to offer comments on the initial draft proposal for the amendment of WAC 314-52, Advertising Rules. We were further pleased to see that many of our concerns, or similar concerns of others, were taken into account in the succeeding revision of the language. However, we have two specific concerns remaining in regard to the proposed amendments before you.

While we are pleased at the careful rewriting of proposed subsection h, we are still troubled by proposed subsection i, which prohibits advertising that “associates alcohol with social achievement.” The logical negative presumption here is that moderate consumption of alcohol is incompatible with social achievement, a presumption that we reject. We believe, for example, that the common advertising image of a well dressed couple enjoying a glass of fine Washington wine over an elegant dinner, while a depiction probably associating alcohol with social achievement, is a thoroughly appropriate image for advertising. We ask that subsection 314-52-015(1)i be struck.

We were very pleased at the careful revision of subsection 314-52-070(2) to reflect “retail premises” and that our comments in reference subsection 2 about offsite directional signs were covered by the provision of an exception for “tourist oriented directional signs” within section 5. However, we remain very concerned that within section 314-52-070(5) the proposed change in language from the general "in proximity to,” to the specific "within five hundred feet of,” will create immediate non conformance issues for the signage of some of our member wineries.

Though permitting of wineries requires the consideration of neighboring uses such as schools and churches, which may be considered incompatible by some, much more latitude is given in the location of such other uses, particularly churches, in proximity to wineries. The result is that many existing wineries may find their legally permitted signage to be made non-conforming under the proposed language following the voluntary location of a church, school or playground, near their already established business. The only recourse of a winery in protecting such a vital advertising asset in such a case would be to vigorously protest the permitting of such a "non compatible" use in their vicinity. Such a protest would likely be acrimonious and unnecessarily damaging to the public image of our members.

We understand that the deletion of the clause "where administrative body of said schools churches, playfields objects to such placement, nor" was proposed in order to streamline the language of the WAC. However, we strongly urge that the existing language be retained and revised to include athletic fields. We do so, not only because this would require an actual complaint in order to create a non conformance issue, but also because the voluntary location of a church, school, or playground within five hundred feet of an existing winery could be considered a presumption, albeit rebuttable, that the administrative body thereof was comfortable with the existing signage.

If the existing language is removed as currently proposed, we urge that an exception be included to provide that:

"In the case where said church, playground, school, or athletic field is sited so as to create a de facto violation of this section for a pre-existing, and otherwise permissible sign, then nothing in this section shall prevent the continued use, maintenance, or replacement of said sign or its alteration, provided that such maintenance, replacement or alteration is in conformance with the remainder of section 314-52 WAC."

Proposed rule making (CR 102)

Advertising: Notice to Stakeholders
Advertising: Issue Paper

No comments:

Post a Comment