Last Friday, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5394. It will become law 90 days thereafter, in late July. The bill is another accomplishment for the Washington Brewers Guild, which supports, unites and protects Washington’s craft brewers through legislative advocacy, education and community building.
The new law changes and clarifies some issues surrounding how Washington’s breweries can use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Erstwhile, the rules were unclear and confusing. Breweries were restricted in the kind of language they could use in a post. Links to ticket sales were prohibited, and other vagueries made dealing with social media difficult.
Granted, some of the rules were meaningful and have been preserved. These generally involve tied house and money’s worth rules. The Washington Brewers Guild worked with the Liquor and Cannabis Board to ensure the new rules did not subvert the intent of the existing rules.
A lack of clarity made it easy, and maybe smart, for breweries not to bother trying to share certain types of information with their customers. For example, breweries were prohibited from using particular types of language when posting about events that were not taking place at their own location. Imagine a brewery scheduling a brewers night event, or a tap takeover, at a local bar and not being sure if they could promote it on Facebook, or exactly how they could promote it on Twitter.
This was especially unfortunate for the local brewing industry because so many of Washington’s breweries are small and operate with little or no communications and marketing budgets. Social media channels are in many cases the very best way for breweries to promote themselves and the events in which they’re involved.
The Washington Brewers Guild will be sending out an info sheet to summarize the changes.
Here are some things that the new law does:
- Clarifies and updates rules for breweries posting online about events where their product will be featured.
- Allows breweries to post and share promotional information and images related to events at a location other than their own brewery, including info on brewer’s nights and tap takeovers where they and their product will be present, including links to ticket sales
- Applies those same rules to posts about charitable events where their beer will be featured
- Preserves existing ban on joint paid advertising by prohibiting paid boosts to a third party to enhance a specific post
- Specifies that a retailer may not require posts as a condition of sale or participation in an event
“We’d like to thank our Government Affairs Committee, our 2019 Hill Climbers and all of you who contacted your legislators to keep this bill moving this session!” said a statement from the Washington Brewers Guild. “We’d also like to thank the WA Wine Institute and WA Hospitality Association for their strong partnership in Olympia moving this bill forward and, of course, our bill sponsors.”
Curtis King (R), 14th Legislative District (Yakima, Goldendale)
Senator Steve Conway (D), 29th Legislative District (S. Tacoma, Lakewood, Spanaway)
Senator Guy Palumbo (D), 1st Legislative District (Bothell, Woodinville, Canyon Park)
Senator Karen Keiser (D), 33rd Legislative District (SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent)