Adolescent Responses to Televised Beer Advertisements:
Children of Alcoholics and Others


Acknowledgements * Summary * Introduction * Background * Survey Methodology * Findings * Discussion * Conclusion * Recommendations * Footnotes



  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and other federal agencies concerned with alcohol advertising should fund further research to explore the effects of alcoholic-beverage commercials, particularly televised beer advertisements, on children of alcoholics and other high-risk populations.


    One research priority should focus on the quantity of alcohol portrayed in ads, and its relationship to viewer beliefs about moderate consumption and consumption intentions.  In addition, rigorous research should examine in greater detail the unique reactions to alcohol advertising by children of alcoholics, and their efforts to reconcile messages delivered in the ads with their actual experiences with problem drinking.  Studies should also attempt to determine whether the positive imagery featured in alcohol ads erodes negative responses, and subsequently generates favorable impressions of alcohol.


  • Mental health professionals, teachers, social workers and others working with children of alcoholics should incorporate information about beer advertisements into their alcohol- education programming.  Media-literacy efforts directed at children of alcoholics and other high-risk populations should highlight their heightened risk for addiction, and include discussion of children's feelings about the inconsistencies between beer ads and reality, normative consumption patterns, and anticipated consequences of drinking beer.


  • The Federal Trade Commission should limit televised beer ads to times or programming when no more than 15%, or 2 million persons in the viewing audience (whichever is less) are below the legal minimum drinking age.


  • Televised beer advertising should not portray fantasy images or feature youth-oriented animation and other themes that appeal to adolescents; this restriction should be adopted by the Federal Trade Commission under its authority to prohibit unfair and deceptive advertising practices.


  • The Federal Trade Commission should use its unfairness authority to take action against beer advertisements that endanger consumers, particularly underage drinkers, by encouraging excessive alcohol consumption.


  • The U.S. Congress should pass legislation that would require a series of rotating health and safety messages in all alcohol advertising, including a message directed to children of alcoholics about their heightened vulnerability for alcohol problems.

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

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Children of Alcoholics Foundation, Inc.

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(212) 595-2553 ext. 7760


July 1996



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