Still no alcohol ads coming to the T
The MBTA keeps on trying, but it can’t convince its board of directors to let the agency sell ads for beer and liquor.
The latest effort came at a board meeting Monday, when officials said even some limited alcohol advertising could yield $2.5 million a year.
Alcohol ads have been banned on the T since 2012, and the board previously passed on reintroducing them that same year. But the T is also under budget pressures yet again, including a funding gap that has grown to $50 million this fiscal year.
The chief concern against the ads is having youth see them. But MBTA director of revenue Evan Rowe told board members the agency would adopt strategies to minimize such exposure, such as by placing ads in stations with low student ridership, restricting digital ads to hours with lower youth use, and using exterior train wraps rather than interior ads.
Board members debated the proposal and took two votes on versions of Rowe’s plan. Each one failed, with a 2-2 tie.
The board’s fifth member, Brian Shortsleeve, was not present at the meeting, so if the issue comes up again he could be the swing vote. Shortsleeve, a former T general manager, frequently focuses on budget issues. Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said he did not know whether the ads will come up again in the near future.
New York City’s subway system recently banned alcohol ads, while other systems such as Chicago allow them with limitations, such as not posting them near schools. Outside of transit, the Outdoor Advertising Association has standards prohibiting alcohol ads within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds, while the beverage industry says it takes aims to ensure no more than 28 percent of the audience that sees an ad is under 21.
Monica Tibbits-Nutt, a T board member, noted after the votes that the agency sometimes sells ads for the alcohol delivery company Drizly despite the policy. She said the “gray areas” of the agency’s advertising policies are “really frustrating.” The T also bans “prurient sexual suggestiveness” but still allows Bernie & Phyl’s ads that make clear sexual double entendres.