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5 Strategies And Meaning Of Surrogate Advertising

Significance of Advertising in the Modern Era

  • Advertising plays a pivotal role in the contemporary world, shaping the way businesses connect with their audience.
  • In the digital age, where information is abundant, advertising serves as the bridge between consumers and products or services.
  • The power of advertising is evident in its ability to influence consumer behavior, preferences, and choices.
  • It has evolved beyond traditional channels to encompass a wide array of mediums, from television and radio to the vast landscape of the internet.
  • However, with this evolution comes the need for creativity and adaptability in marketing strategies.
  • One such strategy that has gained prominence is “surrogate Marketing.”
  • Surrogate advertising has become significant in navigating the complex landscape of advertising regulations and societal perceptions.
  • It involves promoting products indirectly, often due to legal restrictions or ethical concerns surrounding the actual product.
  • This introduction sets the stage for our exploration of surrogate advertising, its origins, strategies, and its role in modern marketing.
Surrogate Advertising

What Is Surrogate Advertising?

  • Definition of Surrogate Marketing
    • Surrogate advertising is a strategic marketing practice employed by companies to promote one product indirectly under the guise of advertising a different but related product.
    • It involves creating advertisements that duplicate the brand image of a restricted or banned product to continue marketing it legally.
  • Explanation of the Term “Surrogate”
    • The term “surrogate” signifies a substitute or stand-in. In the context of advertising, it refers to substituting the promotion of a prohibited product with an alternate product that belongs to the same brand.
  • Purpose of Surrogate Marketing
    • The primary purpose of surrogate advertising is to circumvent legal or ethical restrictions on the direct promotion of certain products.
    • It allows companies to maintain brand presence and recognition in the market, even when advertising the actual product is prohibited.
  • Examples of Surrogate Marketing
    • A classic example is promoting alcoholic beverages like whisky or vodka under the guise of advertising soda or music CDs carrying the same brand name.
    • Tobacco companies use surrogate advertising to market products like pan masala or mouth fresheners, indirectly alluding to their tobacco products.
    • In the cannabis industry, many brands promote their weed-infused products as medicinal items to adhere to regulations.

How Did Surrogate Marketing Originate?

  • Historical Context of Surrogate Marketing
    • It has its roots in the need for companies to continue marketing products that faced legal restrictions or bans.
  • Tracing Its Origins to Britain
    • The origin of this can be traced back to Britain, where it emerged as a response to a concerning social issue: domestic violence.
    • As alcohol consumption increased among men, it led to a rise in domestic violence. Women took to the streets to protest against the open marketing of liquor-based products.
  • The Issue of Domestic Violence
    • The connection between liquor advertising and domestic violence prompted companies to rethink their marketing strategies.
    • To address this issue and evade restrictions, companies began adopting surrogate marketing, promoting one product in place of another related but banned product.
  • Evolution of Surrogate Marketing
    • Over time, surrogate advertising evolved from being a response to social concerns to a sophisticated marketing strategy.
    • Today, it extends beyond alcohol to encompass various industries, including tobacco, narcotics, infant milk substitution, and other intoxicants.

Examples Of Surrogate Advertising

Surrogate Advertising In Liquor Industry

  • Surrogate advertising has been extensively used in the liquor industry as a clever workaround to promote alcohol-related products, especially in regions where direct advertising of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law.
  • Explanation
    • In this strategy, liquor brands advertise their products indirectly by presenting them as something else entirely. This disguising of alcoholic beverages allows them to circumvent advertising restrictions.
  • Examples
    • A prevalent example is the promotion of alcoholic drinks under the disguise of non-alcoholic products like soda, fruit juice, or cocktail mixers.
    • For instance, Imperial Blue, a popular whisky brand in India, advertises its whisky brand by associating it with music CDs, as it’s banned to directly advertise alcohol in the country.
    • Other well-known brands, such as Bagpiper soda, cassette tapes, and CDs, and Royal Challenge, have also adopted this strategy to promote their alcoholic beverages under the guise of different products.
  • Importance
    • This approach allows liquor companies to maintain brand visibility and recognition in the market while adhering to regulatory restrictions.
    • By using surrogate advertising, these brands can indirectly target their audience without violating laws.
  • Impact
    • Surrogate advertising in the liquor industry has been successful in maintaining the popularity of alcoholic brands while adhering to advertising regulations.

Surrogate Advertising In Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry has also adopted surrogate advertising strategies to market tobacco-based products in a discreet manner, particularly in regions where direct advertising of tobacco is prohibited due to health concerns and regulatory measures.

  • Explanation
    • Surrogate advertising in the tobacco sector involves promoting tobacco-related products under the guise of non-tobacco items, creating a deceptive appearance to circumvent advertising restrictions.
  • Examples
    • An illustrative example is the endorsement of Pan Bahar, a pan masala brand, by actor Pierce Brosnan, who famously portrayed James Bond. This association subtly promotes tobacco products without explicitly mentioning them.
    • Big brands like Manikchand Group, Dharampal Satyapal Limited, and Kothari Products Limited employ surrogate advertising to sell tobacco-based goods by presenting them as pan masala or hookah substitutes.
  • Significance
    • This strategy enables tobacco companies to maintain brand visibility and continue marketing their products while adhering to strict bans on direct tobacco advertising.
    • Surrogate advertising helps these companies target their audience indirectly and sustain brand recognition.
  • Impact
    • Surrogate advertising in the tobacco industry plays a crucial role in preserving the market presence of tobacco brands despite stringent regulations.
    • By utilizing this approach, tobacco companies can sidestep health-related advertising bans while still influencing consumer behavior.

Surrogate Advertising In Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry has also witnessed the use of surrogate advertising techniques, primarily aimed at promoting cannabis-infused products while adhering to legal restrictions and societal perceptions.

  • Explanation
    • Surrogate advertising in the cannabis sector involves marketing cannabis-related items by portraying them as something other than cannabis, effectively masking the true nature of the products.
  • Examples
    • One common approach is to label marijuana-infused products as medicinal alternatives. Cannabis brands often present their weed-based goods as remedies or wellness products, concealing their recreational use.
    • Prominent companies like ArcView and GW Pharmaceuticals employ surrogate marketing by branding their cannabis products as medicinal solutions.
  • Significance
    • Surrogate advertising allows cannabis companies to navigate complex legal frameworks and public perceptions surrounding cannabis consumption.
    • It offers a means to promote cannabis-derived products in an environment where explicit cannabis advertising may face legal restrictions or social stigma.
  • Impact
    • Surrogate advertising in the cannabis industry plays a pivotal role in driving the acceptance and normalization of cannabis-based products.
    • By leveraging this strategy, cannabis brands can reach a broader audience while maintaining compliance with laws and societal expectations.

What Are The 5 Strategies For Surrogate Advertising?

  • Introduction to the Strategies
    • Surrogate advertising employs a range of innovative strategies to indirectly promote products that may face legal or societal restrictions. These strategies enable companies to navigate complex advertising regulations and promote their goods while maintaining a facade of adherence to norms.
  • Promotion By Extension
    • One of the primary strategies involves brand extension, where companies promote new products using a well-established brand name. This strategy leverages the brand’s reputation and recognition to introduce new items while circumventing advertising bans on specific product categories. For instance, alcoholic beverage brands may extend their product lines to include non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Promotion By Association
    • This strategy focuses on associating a brand with particular values or lifestyle choices. Celebrities and influencers are often used to endorse products indirectly, creating an impression that the brand aligns with specific attributes. For example, a famous actor endorsing a soda brand indirectly suggests that the brand represents qualities associated with the actor.
  • Promotion Through TV Commercials
    • While television advertising is a powerful tool, certain products, like alcohol and tobacco, may be banned from direct advertisements. In such cases, companies create commercials that indirectly promote the product by highlighting something else within the brand’s portfolio. These surrogate TV ads maintain brand visibility while adhering to legal restrictions.
  • Promotion Through Events and Sponsorships
    • Surrogate advertising extends to events and sponsorships, where a company’s logo or branding is subtly placed in prominent locations. This exposure reinforces brand presence in consumers’ minds. For example, an alcohol brand may sponsor a music concert, indirectly connecting the brand with entertainment.
  • Promotion Through Public Service Announcements
    • Public service announcements (PSAs) are employed to create awareness about products while adhering to advertising restrictions. Companies use PSAs to educate consumers about potential health risks associated with their products indirectly. These PSAs often feature vibrant logos and branding, ensuring the brand remains visible.

Promotion By Extension

  • Explanation
    • Companies utilize promotion by extension when they face limitations on directly advertising certain product categories, such as alcoholic beverages or tobacco. Instead of promoting these restricted items directly, they create new products that can be marketed without hindrance, often unrelated to the core business.
  • Examples
    • Kingfisher: This renowned beer brand has successfully employed promotion by extension by venturing into various unrelated product categories. Kingfisher Airlines, Kingfisher calendar, and Kingfisher soda are examples of products that carry the Kingfisher brand but are not alcoholic beverages. This strategy keeps the brand visible and thriving while complying with regulations on alcohol advertising.
    • Budweiser Zero: Budweiser, known for its beer, introduced Budweiser Zero, a non-alcoholic beer. This product allows the company to maintain its brand presence and reach consumers who prefer non-alcoholic options, thereby indirectly promoting its alcoholic beverages.
    • Bagpiper: Bagpiper, a popular whiskey brand in India, has ventured into the soda market. By doing so, it advertises soda drinks under the same brand name, ensuring that consumers associate the brand with more than just alcoholic beverages.

Promotion By Association

  • Explanation
    • In this approach, companies associate their brand with attributes or qualities that resonate with their target audience. By leveraging endorsements from celebrities or creating compelling narratives, they aim to convey subtle messages about their products.
  • Examples
    • Bagpiper Club Soda: Bagpiper, a prominent whiskey brand, employed this strategy by featuring Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha in its club soda advertisements. This association with a popular figure conveys an image of sophistication and enjoyment, indirectly promoting the brand’s whiskey products.
    • Red Bull: While not a surrogate advertising example, Red Bull often associates its brand with extreme sports and high-energy activities. They sponsor events like Formula 1 racing and use endorsements from athletes, creating an association with energy and excitement that indirectly promotes their energy drink.
    • Lux Soap: Lux, a soap brand, has a history of associating itself with Bollywood stars. By featuring celebrities in their advertisements, they create an aura of glamour and luxury around their soap products.

Promotion Through TV Commercials

  • Explanation
    • This strategy involves creating television commercials that cleverly disguise the product being promoted, making it seem like something else entirely. By doing so, companies can circumvent regulations while still reaching a wide audience through television advertising.
  • Examples
    • Heineken 0.0: Heineken, a well-known beer brand, used this strategy by promoting its non-alcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0, through a TV commercial that highlighted the product’s resemblance to traditional Heineken beer. The ad emphasized the same branding elements, such as the signature green bottle and logo, creating an association with the original product while adhering to alcohol advertising restrictions.
    • Kingfisher: Kingfisher, a famous Indian beer brand, utilized surrogate advertising through TV commercials by promoting items like packaged drinking water, soda, and even calendars featuring models. These commercials maintained the brand’s identity and indirectly reminded consumers of its alcoholic beverages.
    • Amul Kool: Amul, a dairy brand, indirectly promoted its milk-based beverage, Amul Kool, through TV commercials featuring catchy jingles and vibrant visuals. These ads focused on the refreshing and enjoyable aspects of the product without directly mentioning it.

Promotion Through Events And Sponsorships

  • Explanation
    • This approach involves companies sponsoring events, festivals, or sports teams while subtly featuring their brand logos. By doing so, they indirectly promote their products without explicitly advertising them.
  • Examples
    • Royal Stag: Royal Stag, a renowned Indian whiskey brand, ventured into surrogate advertising by sponsoring an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team. Through this sponsorship, they associated their brand with one of India’s most-watched sports events, keeping their brand alive in consumers’ minds. Additionally, Royal Stag promoted Coke Studio performances, subtly connecting their brand with music and entertainment.
    • Red Bull: While Red Bull is primarily known for its energy drinks, it also practices surrogate advertising through event sponsorship. They sponsor extreme sports events, air races, and even host events like the Red Bull Flugtag. These events prominently display the Red Bull logo, reinforcing brand awareness without overtly promoting the energy drink.
    • Kingfisher: In addition to TV commercials, Kingfisher also utilizes event sponsorship as a surrogate advertising tactic. They have sponsored events such as the Kingfisher Calendar launch, featuring models associated with the brand. This indirect promotion helps maintain the brand’s image and recognition.

Promotion Through Public Service Announcement

  • Explanation
    • This method involves companies creating PSAs that raise awareness about various issues while subtly incorporating their brand or logo into the message. By doing so, they draw attention to their products indirectly.
  • Examples
    • Anti-Smoking Campaigns: Tobacco companies, restricted by advertising regulations, often use PSAs to communicate the hazards of smoking. These PSAs, while highlighting the dangers of tobacco use, feature their brand logos discreetly. This approach reminds consumers of the brand’s existence without directly promoting smoking.
    • Health Awareness Initiatives: Companies in industries like liquor or tobacco may initiate health-focused PSAs that discuss the risks associated with their products. These campaigns emphasize responsible consumption and health consciousness, ultimately linking their brand with social responsibility.
    • Logo Integration: Some companies seamlessly integrate their logos or brand symbols into PSAs that address broader social issues. For instance, a liquor brand may incorporate its logo into a campaign promoting responsible drinking or discouraging underage alcohol consumption.

Why Do Companies Use Surrogate Advertising?

  • Motivations for Using Surrogate Advertising
    • Companies employ surrogate advertising as a strategic approach for several compelling reasons, effectively navigating advertising restrictions and societal perceptions. Here are five key motivations:
  1. Circumvent Direct Advertising Bans
    • Surrogate advertising is a response to strict bans on direct advertisements of specific products, such as alcohol, tobacco, or even certain pharmaceuticals. Companies utilize this tactic to indirectly promote their goods while staying within legal boundaries.
  2. Maintain Brand Visibility
    • For products restricted from direct advertising, staying visible in consumers’ minds is vital. Surrogate advertising allows brands to keep their names and logos in circulation, ensuring that consumers continue to associate the brand with its products.
  3. Portray Social Responsibility
    • Many companies use surrogate advertising to project a responsible image. By associating their brand with public service announcements and campaigns addressing societal issues, they aim to demonstrate a commitment to responsible business practices.
  4. Promote Secondary Products
    • Some companies employ surrogate advertising to showcase secondary products or variants of their main offerings. This approach enables them to indirectly promote alternative products that aren’t subject to advertising restrictions.
  5. Boost Sales of High-Revenue Products
    • High-profit margin products like alcohol, cigarettes, and tobacco contribute significantly to a company’s revenue. Surrogate advertising helps maintain the consumption of these products without overtly promoting them, ensuring a steady flow of income.

What Are The Benefits And Limitations Of Surrogate Advertising?


  • Revenue Generation from Banned Products
    • One of the primary benefits of surrogate advertising is its ability to generate revenue from products that face stringent advertising bans. Companies can indirectly promote these items through surrogate means while adhering to legal restrictions.Example: Liquor brands promoting non-alcoholic beverages under the same brand name.
  • Sustained Brand Visibility
    • Surrogate advertising helps maintain brand visibility in consumers’ minds, even when direct promotion of certain products is prohibited. This ensures that consumers continue to associate the brand with its broader product range.Example: Tobacco companies using lifestyle advertisements to remain prominent.
  • Minimized Competition Threat
    • In industries where direct advertising is banned, companies using surrogate advertising deter potential competitors from entering the market. This safeguarding of market share benefits established players.Example: Exclusive branding of surrogate products creates a brand monopoly.


  • Undermining the Purpose of Advertising Bans
    • Surrogate advertising can undermine the purpose of advertising bans on harmful products by allowing companies to indirectly promote them. This poses a significant challenge to regulatory efforts.Example: Indirectly promoting tobacco products while avoiding direct tobacco advertisements.
  • Low Awareness of Surrogate Advertisements
    • Many consumers may not recognize surrogate advertisements for what they are. This can lead to low awareness of the potential harm associated with the products being promoted.Example: Consumers mistaking surrogate advertisements for unrelated products.
  • Promoting Health-Injurious Products
    • Surrogate advertising indirectly promotes products like alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy snacks, contributing to societal health issues. This ethical concern raises questions about the industry’s responsibility.Example: Advertising sugary snacks while avoiding direct promotion of unhealthy products.

What Are The Various Ethical Issues Concerning Surrogate Advertising?

Introduction to Ethical Concerns:

  • Consumer Deception
    • One of the primary ethical concerns is the potential for consumer deception. Surrogate advertising aims to create an impression of one product while actually promoting another. This can mislead consumers into purchasing products they might otherwise avoid.Example: Consumers mistaking an alcohol surrogate for a non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Promotion of Harmful Products
    • Surrogate advertising indirectly promotes products that may be harmful to health, such as alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy snacks. This raises ethical questions about the responsibility of companies in contributing to societal health issues.Example: Advertising sugary snacks while avoiding direct promotion of unhealthy products.

Government Regulations and Actions:

  • Government Interventions
    • Many governments have recognized the ethical concerns associated with surrogate advertising and have taken steps to regulate it. For instance, some countries have implemented laws to restrict or ban surrogate advertisements for specific product categories.Example: The Indian government’s cable TV regulation act of 1995 banned direct advertising of liquor and cigarette products.
  • Balancing Economic Interests
    • Governments often face the challenge of balancing economic interests, such as tax revenue from industries like alcohol and tobacco, with public health concerns. This creates a complex ethical dilemma.Example: Liquor and tobacco businesses remaining legal due to their revenue generation despite advertising bans.
  • Consumer Awareness
    • Ethical concerns regarding surrogate advertising can be partially mitigated through consumer education and awareness campaigns. Governments and advocacy groups play a vital role in informing consumers about the true nature of such advertisements.Example: Public service announcements highlighting the risks associated with certain products.


  • Conclusion: The Complex Landscape of Surrogate Advertising
    • Surrogate advertising is a multifaceted marketing strategy that blurs the lines between product promotion and regulatory compliance. As we conclude this exploration, it’s essential to reflect on its role and impact in the modern marketing landscape.
  • Balancing Act
    • Surrogate advertising exists in a delicate balance between business interests, public health concerns, and ethical considerations. Companies employ this strategy to navigate regulatory restrictions while keeping their brands alive in consumers’ minds.
  • A Force for Deception or Innovation?
    • This marketing approach has its critics who argue that it can deceive consumers, especially in promoting products that may be harmful. However, it’s also a testament to the innovative ways businesses adapt to challenges.
  • Consumer Awareness Matters
    • Ultimately, consumer awareness and education play pivotal roles in mitigating the ethical issues surrounding surrogate advertising. Informed consumers are better equipped to make choices aligned with their values and health.
  • Share Your Opinions
    • We encourage our readers to share their thoughts and opinions on surrogate advertising. How do you perceive its role in today’s marketing world? Are there ways to strike a better balance between business interests and public welfare? Your insights can contribute to a more informed discussion on this complex topic.
  • Final Thoughts
    • In conclusion, surrogate advertising is a phenomenon that continues to evolve, reflecting the dynamic nature of marketing and regulation. It sparks important conversations about ethics, consumer choice, and corporate responsibility. As we navigate this landscape, let’s remain vigilant, critical, and open to dialogue.


1. Surrogate Marketing Examples

  • Surrogate marketing examples encompass various industries, with liquor companies promoting sodas, tobacco brands marketing as mouth fresheners, and more. These examples showcase the creative strategies employed to indirectly advertise restricted products.

2. Surrogate Advertising PPT

  • A Surrogate Advertising PowerPoint Presentation (PPT) can provide an insightful overview of this marketing strategy. It typically includes definitions, historical context, industry-specific examples, strategies, ethical concerns, and regulatory aspects.

3. Surrogate Marketing in India

  • Surrogate marketing in India is prevalent due to strict regulations on the direct promotion of alcohol, tobacco, and related products. Companies employ tactics like promoting music CDs, soda, or mouth fresheners to indirectly market these restricted items.

4. Surrogate Marketing Strategy

  • Surrogate marketing strategies involve promoting non-restricted products under the same brand name to indirectly market restricted items. Common tactics include brand extension, celebrity endorsements, TV commercials with subtle product references, event sponsorships, and public service announcements.

5. Surrogate Advertising Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Surrogate advertising offers benefits such as revenue generation and brand recall. However, it faces limitations like potential negative societal impact and the undermining of bans on harmful product advertising.

6. Is Surrogate Advertising Legal in India?

  • Surrogate advertising is a legal gray area in India. While it helps companies comply with bans on direct alcohol and tobacco advertising, it also raises ethical concerns and regulatory challenges. Government actions and regulations continue to evolve in response to this practice.

7. Surrogate Advertising PDF

  • A Surrogate Advertising PDF may contain in-depth information about this marketing technique, its history, strategies, and ethical considerations. It can serve as a valuable resource for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

8. Surrogate Advertising in India Examples

  • Surrogate advertising in India showcases several examples, including liquor brands promoting music CDs, tobacco products marketing as mouth fresheners, and alcohol brands using soda advertisements. These examples illustrate the adaptability of companies in adhering to advertising regulations.

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