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Virginia ABC > Licenses > Retail Resources > Advertising

Advertising

With recent changes to happy hour advertising regulations, Virginia ABC recognizes there may be uncertainty among the licensee community about what advertising is or is not allowed. The following are some basic guidelines and tips. See ABC regulations 3 VAC 5-20-10 to 3 VAC 5-20-100 for more information. Please contact your ABC special agent for further guidance or if you have questions about specific advertisements.

Advertisements cannot:

  • Encourage underage drinking or excessive drinking;
  • Be lewd or obscene;
  • Mention the intoxicating effects of alcohol; or
  • Be false or misleading or imply any therapeutic effects from drinking.

Regularly Priced Items

Licensees may advertise alcoholic beverage products they carry, regular prices of drinks, wine pairings, descriptions of signature cocktails, etc.

Advertisements cannot reference any manufacturer or wholesaler in response to payment by the manufacturer or wholesaler—in other words, it is not permitted for a manufacturer to pay a licensee to advertise a product by name.

Drink Specials

Effective July 1, 2019, legislation will allow licensed establishments to do the following to advertise drink specials and happy hours:

  • Include prices.
  • Use creative terms such as “Wine Down Wednesday” or “Thirsty Thursday.”
  • Promote the time span of their happy hour/drink specials.
  • List specific drink types and brands.
  • Promote drink specials in advertisements and on flyers, posters, social media and their website (subject to other alcohol advertising laws and regulation.

The following restrictions will remain in place:

  • Happy hour/drink specials may not be offered between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
  • Happy hour/drink specials may not promote over-consumption or underage drinking. Advertising two-for-one and “bottomless” drink specials are illegal.

FAQs

Can photos of alcoholic beverages be posted on a licensee’s website or social media including bottles that display brands and photos of beer/wine/cocktails by the glass? What about tap handles with logos?
Yes, photos of alcoholic beverages, in bottles or glasses, and tap handles with logos are allowed on websites and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Licensees may advertise alcoholic beverage products they carry (“we have 20 specialty brews on tap including…”), regular prices of drinks, wine pairings, descriptions of signature cocktails, etc.

What’s the official rule for advertising alcoholic beverages on a licensee’s website or social media?
Licensees may advertise alcoholic beverage products they carry, regular prices of drinks, wine pairings, descriptions of signature cocktails, etc. This may include photos of alcoholic beverages, in bottles or glasses, and tap handles with logos.

Training Approval Program

Learn how to submit your training program for approval. If your business conducts its own alcohol server training course, you can have it approved by Virginia ABC, pursuant to COV 4.1-227(E). Once approved, it will be your responsibility to keep your program updated with changes to Virginia's codes and regulations, and to maintain all records of training classes conducted.

Need Help?

This information is meant for general guidance only. For specific questions, contact your ABC special agent. To view ABC laws and regulations, visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System.