Surrogate Advertising—All You Need To Know

This is the new era of advertising, and in this new era, technology has been very dominant. As a result, digital advertisements have had a powerful influence on society, people, and businesses. Think about it; we have come a long way from how advertisements used to be done, from pamphlets and extensive hoardings and billboards to TV commercials and digital advertisements and social media promotions; things have been changing rampantly.

Advertisement is a way of business life. Even if you have a fantastic product and a fantastic idea but do not know how to market and advertise it, few people know about it. Whether it is to make people aware of your business and brand or to promote your product and generate more revenue, advertising is the number one way to go.

When it comes to surrogate advertising – as weird and complicated as it sounds, well, it is not. So let’s have a quick rundown on what it means. 

What Is Surrogate Advertising? 

Think about times when in the middle of your YouTube video, a random ad would play, or when you’re watching TV, what kind of commercials are played? For example, have you ever noticed advertisements for cigarettes and alcohol in recent days? Or how many times have you seen someone promoting cigarettes and alcohol directly?

This is where surrogate advertising comes in – it is a form of advertising which generally promotes regulated products like cigarettes and alcohol in the disguise of another product. 

This kind of advertising usually uses a very immediate product to cigarettes and alcohol. For example, a drinking glass can promote a particular type of liquor. The products such as alcohol and cigarettes may not be projected directly to consumers but somewhat masked under another development of the same name.

One of the most famous examples that we can take of is the Bacardi music series. The main intention of the entire advertisement is to sell people Bacardi. However, the ad does not directly say that and markets the product through music CDs. 

The History Of Surrogate Advertising 

As a millennial or even someone born in the early 2000s, there is a faint memory of the Napali advertisement industry where Khukuri or Surya Cigarettes were advertised. They would have more girth and story than anything else—alcohol and cigarettes were advertised openly. So, when did promoting these products openly become banned? 

The answer to the question above is that the origin of surrogate advertising can be traced back to Britain. As all of these products for marketed freely, more and more men started abusing the products. As a result, domestic violence cases spiked up. This made women worldwide take a stand and take to the streets, demanding the ban of such advertisements and protesting against the open marketing of liquor-based products.

Later on, companies adopted the strategy of circuit marketing or surrogate advertising to sell goods in disguise of some other related products. Today, products marketed through surrogate advertising or surrogate marketing include alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics, infant milk substitution, tobacco, and other intoxicants.

Strategies Of Surrogate Advertising

As the debate of what to market, how to market, and when to deal continues, there are a few strategies surrogate advertising can use: 

1. Promotion By Extension 

Brand extension is promoting new products under a well-known brand name. One of the classic examples that we can take is Kingfisher. A famous beer company, the Kingfisher, has invested in domestic aviation companies to promote their brand. Kingfisher has also produced calendars featuring swimsuit models every year.

2. Promotion By Association With Public Figure 

Promotion through association focuses on a company’s value statement and generates the impression of buyers that the brand is for courageous individuals. For example, Marlboro—a cigarette brand title that sponsored Formula 1 cars for Ferrari and McLaren back in the day. This is a common strategy of getting endorsed by celebrities and public figures. 

3. Promotion Through TVCs 

TVC means televised commercials. Today, many businesses produce television commercials, but most promote a specific product. However, companies may be prohibited from doing so in the case of particular products such as alcohol, cigarettes, and others. For example, Royal Challenge, an Indian whisky brand, uses playing cards and branded water bottles to remind customers about their significant items. 

4. Promotion Through Events 

If you can’t market your company directly, sponsoring a public event is a beautiful approach to promote it. Companies, for example, leave their logos at public events to promote their brands. Royal Stag, for example, owned an IPL franchise and used Coke Studio performances to market their business. 

5. Promotion Through PSA 

PSA means public service announcements. They are a standard method of product promotion. Surrogate advertising of this kind is arguably the most contentious. A cigarette business, for example, might employ public service announcements to alert consumers about the health dangers linked with tobacco use. 

Importance Of Surrogate Advertising For Businesses

Surrogate advertising has become a popular way of advertising a brand and carries particular importance. Them being: 

  • Brand recognition and helping consumers keep the brand alive in their minds. 
  • Allows brands to market a product that cannot be advertised directly in an indirect manner.
  • Uses secondary brands or items to promote less socially acceptable products.
  • Can promote things that generate a lot of money, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and tobacco.  

Disadvantages Of Surrogate Advertising 

Surrogate advertising is not always good for the business and the masses as they also carry disadvantages. Them being: 

  • Surrogate advertising effectively defeats the goal of restricting or prohibiting the direct advertisement of a dangerous product.
  • It has the potential to harm society by pushing health-harming products.
  • Surrogate commercials typically result in poor levels of brand awareness and expertise. 
  • Surrogate advertising is tricky for a young business to build brand awareness.

The Present Of Surrogate Marketing 

Companies are turning to event sponsorship, event organizing, corporate films, and more imaginative integrated marketing communications tactics as the government enforces the ban on surrogate advertising. In contrast, surrogate advertising is still a frequent practice.


People who own liquor, tobacco, and intoxicating substances have to profit. This has led many businesses to opt for new ways of generating revenue. As a result, surrogate advertising has come up as a necessity. Surrogate marketing employs a collaborative approach to achieve exponential and quick exposure. 


What is Surrogate Advertising? —Definition &Examples

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