What is ‘Surrogate Advertising’?

By on November 28, 2011

Have you ever thought “Why is Kingfisher, an alcohol brand, marketing drinking water?” It is because of the phenomenon called ‘Surrogate Advertising’.


Surrogate advertising, uses the advertisement of a brand or product, to convey a message which is related to another brand or product. This is done due to various reasons. Primary reason is to circumvent the ban on advertising for a particular type of product(s). For example advertising for alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are banned in India. However, Such brands advertise through other products like mineral water or music. Surrogate advertising may also be used in cases where the use of a product is linked to a service. In such cases, the service is advertised widely, and the service provider uses only the product in question.

Trends before Ban in advertising

  • “Wills” a cigarette brand of ITC, used to sponsor the Indian Cricket Team/Matches
  • Tennis Tournaments were sponsored by “Gold Flake”, another cigarette brand
  • “Manikchand”, manufacturers of ghutka, sponsored the Filmfare Awards for a considerably number of years

Advertising post imposition of Ban

However after the imposition of a ban on advertising for liquor/tobacco and related products, brands are increasingly using surrogates for advertising. Here are a few examples

Seagrams Music
McDowells Water and Soda
Bagpiper Water, Soda, and Music
Red and White Bravery Awards
Bacardi Music
Kingfisher Water and Calendars
Wills Lifestyle Apparels, Accessories
Smirnoff, Aristrocrat Apple Juice

About Arvind R

Arvind believes that “Marketing is a function, inherent in every human being. A post graduate in Retail Management, he has worked with retail companies like Shoppers Stop and Spar, before venturing out on his own, and now is a successful entrepreneur running a manufacturing business. Click here to know more about him.