Despite alcohol ad ban, booze delivery startup plastered on MBTA

Boston-based startup Drizly, which gets alcohol to your door, launched an MBTA ad campaign this fall.

A Drizly app on the exterior of Kenmore Square’s elevator shaft.
A Drizly app on the exterior of Kenmore Square’s elevator shaft. –

Since 2012, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority vehicles and stations have been devoid of advertising for alcohol products. That ban apparently doesn’t apply to alcohol delivery services.

Drizly, a Boston-based startup that allows users to order from liquor stores on-demand, is in the middle of an ad campaign on the T.

Drizly’s campaign features tag lines like, “Fast alcohol delivery from our app to your door,’’ and, “Get the door. It’s the liquor store.’’

The T’s advertising guidelines include 15 types of ads that are banned, with alcohol among them. “The MBTA shall not display or maintain any advertisement that … advertises an alcohol product or a brand of alcohol products,’’ the guidelines say.


MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Drizly is not considered an alcohol brand or product.

“The ads for a delivery service do not violate the MBTA’s guidelines which prohibit advertising of an alcohol brand or specific product (from the alcohol beverage industry),’’ he said in an email.

Drizly’s campaign on the T is spread across 40 cars, as well as on the glass panels at the entrance to Arlington Station and the outside of an elevator at Kenmore Square, Pesaturo said.

Drizly is advertising outside Arlington Station on the Green Line. —

Drizly pays $1,200 per train for four weeks worth of advertising, while the Arlington ads cost $25,000 for the same timeframe and the Kenmore elevator costs $30,000, according to the rate card of T’s outside advertising management firm.

Drizly spokeswoman Kerin Horgan said the company crafted its ads based on the T’s guidelines.

“One of the creative pieces we knew we wanted to use had a beer can on the table, so to be safe we made sure the label wasn’t identified as beer, rather just as a can,’’ she said.

Horan said the T campaign is part of a broader advertising campaign across the city running through October. It has been a success since starting in September, she said.


“Drizly business has doubled in Boston and we’ve had multiple record days since launching the campaign,’’ she said.

Two weeks ago, MBTA officials floated the idea of allowing alcohol ads on the T as one of several ways to help close an operating budget gap projected to hit $242 million next fiscal year if changes are not made. Alcohol ads could chip a relatively slim $1.3 million off the deficit, the T projects.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who supported the T’s decision to do away with alcohol ads as a state representative in 2012, promptly criticized the idea of bringing them back (as did Kitty Dukakis, the wife of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis). T officials have pointed out that bus shelters not owned by the MBTA in the city of Boston have continued to place alcohol advertisements in recent years.

The busiest stops on the MBTA:

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