STOP LIQUOR ADS ON TV
"Television remains the best place to make huge
Alcohol Advertising Influences Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors
Children and teens already view far too many commercial messages in the broadcast media that glamorize and encourage drinking. Young people view approximately 20,000 commercials each year, of which nearly 2,000 are for beer and wine.
In 2000, brewers spent more than $770 million on television ads and $15 million on radio ads.
Children’s awareness of alcohol directly translates into stronger intentions to drink as an adult. As early as 1994, studies found that alcohol advertising may predispose young people to drink.
The booze industry commonly contends that ads have nothing to do with consumption or harm. In a September, 1999 report to Congress on promoting alcohol to underage consumers, the FTC found that measuring the effects of alcohol advertising on overall consumption faces significant methodological challenges.
Even as the Supreme Court overturned Massachusetts’ ban on billboard advertising for tobacco products
Liquor Ads will Reach Mass Audiences of Young Viewers
Young people ages 12-17 spend significantly more time watching television during "prime time" hours than any other time of the day. On average each week young people watch 5:59 hours of prime time television (Monday-Saturday from 8:00-11:00 P.M. and Sunday from 7:00-11:00 P.M.)
32% of children ages 2 to 7 and 65% of children ages 8 to18 have a TV in the bedroom.
49% of children live in homes where there are no set rules about TV watching.
Underage Drinking and its Harms are Widespread
On average, young people begin drinking at 13.1 years of age. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, those who begin by age 15 are four times as likely to become alcohol dependent than those who wait until age 21.
Alcohol is a factor in the four leading causes of death among persons ages 10 to 24: motor-vehicle crashes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide.
Drunk driving crash deaths are beginning to rise among teens.
Underage drinking costs Americans nearly $53 billion annually.
NBC’s "Responsibility" Guidelines are a Sham
Under NBC’s "responsibility" guidelines, millions of underage persons will be exposed to commercials for hard liquor, as they have been exposed for decades to appealing, funny, and seductive spots for beer. Advertising trade professionals have declared that the "85% adult" standard is virtually meaningless, since nearly every NBC show would qualify (72% of the U.S. population is 21 or over).
In order to be credible and effective, responsible advertising guidelines for alcoholic beverages should at minimum:
(1) Require meaningful time, place, and manner restrictions on all television alcoholic-beverage advertising so that such ads reach as few underage persons as possible. That should include setting a cap on the absolute number and percent of potential underage viewers exposed to alcohol advertising, and possibly imposing limits on the number of alcohol ads or the time allotted for alcohol advertising within each broadcast hour. That restriction could vary, depending on time of broadcast and composition of the television audience;
(2) Require equal time for public health and safety messages for young people and adults about the diverse risks of alcohol consumption. Those messages should be produced by government or independent agencies or public health experts not affiliated with alcoholic-beverage industry interests, and;
(3) Require that all alcohol commercials carry visible, audible,
health warning messages about the risks of alcohol consumption. Those
messages should vary, rotate in ads, and address numerous documented
risks of alcohol consumption.
The liquor industry routinely targets "entry-level" consumers in such
youth-oriented magazines as Rolling Stone, Vibe and Spin.
Transferring those aggressively youthful ads into network television
will snare millions more teenage targets of liquor producers. Messages
designed for 21-year-olds will also have appeal for 18-year-olds and
The increased dependence of broadcasters on revenue from alcoholic-beverage producers may also have more subtle and undesirable effects. Those include: influencing station programming decisions; compromising news and public service coverage of alcohol health and safety issues; jeopardizing licensees' implementation of their statutory public interest responsibilities; and hardening broadcaster opposition to policy efforts to balance pro-drinking advertising messages with public health information about the risks of alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have documented how the heavy reliance by some magazines on tobacco advertising revenues has distorted -- and in some cases, extinguished -- their coverage of health issues related to smoking.
(1) A December, 2001 poll on broadcast liquor advertisements, conducted for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates found that:
72% of American adults support continuing a voluntary decision by
television networks not to advertise liquor on television.
68% of American adults oppose NBC’s decision to show liquor advertisements on television.
79% of American adults think that liquor ads on TV will be a factor in causing young people under 21 to try liquor.
(2) According to AdWeek magazine (January 14, 2002), an online survey conducted by Initiative Media North America to gauge how viewers would react to liquor marketing on network television found:
More than two-thirds said liquor ads should be limited to responsible-drinking messages and not extend to product appeals.
54% strongly or somewhat agreed that liquor ads should include
responsible drinking and health warnings.
The most acceptable time for liquor ads is after 11 P.M.
(3) A recent TV Guide poll (January 14, 2002) found that:
More than half of those surveyed disapprove of NBC’s decision to air
hard liquor advertisements.
64% percent of women indicate hard liquor ads have no place on
57% of those surveyed believe teens would be influenced by hard liquor commercials.
(1) Strasburger, V. C., & Donnerstein, E. (1999). Children, adolescents, and the media: Issues and solutions. Pediatrics, 103(1):129-139.
Young people view approximately 20,000 commercials each year, or
which nearly 2,000 are for beer and wine.
For every "just say no" or "know when to say when" public service announcement, teens will view 25 to 50 beer and wine advertisements.
(2) Gentile, D. A., Walsh, D. A., Bloomgren, B. W., Atti, J. A, & Norman, J. A. (2001). Frogs sell beer: The effects of beer advertisements on adolescent drinking knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Paper presented at the Biennial Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This study suggests that media and advertisements are a significant
predictor, and perhaps the most significant predictor, of adolescents’
(1) knowledge about beer brands, (2) preference for beer brands, (3)
current drinking behaviors, (4) beer brand loyalty, and (5) intentions
The most heavily advertised brands of beer (in 1998 and 1999) had the highest brand awareness, brand preference, brand usage and brand loyalty among junior and senior high school students. This finding suggests a correlation between beer advertising budgets and adolescent drinking.
(3) Grube, J. W. & Wallack, L. (1994). Television beer advertising and drinking knowledge, beliefs, and intentions among schoolchildren. American Journal of Public Health, 84(2):254-259.
The findings of this study suggest that alcohol advertising may
predispose young people to drinking.
Children who were more aware of beer advertisements held more
favorable beliefs about drinking, intended to drink more frequently as
adults, and had more knowledge of beer brands and slogans.
Taken as a whole, the findings of this study suggest that attempts to prevent or delay drinking among young people should give attention to alcohol advertising. In particular, efforts should be made to reduce the extent to which it appeals to children and to reduce their exposure to it.
(4) Recent research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by Charles Atkin (Department of Communication, Michigan State University) and Esther Thorson (School of Journalism, University of Missouri), based on a national sample of 612 young adults ages 21 to 29 found that:
21% of those paying higher attention vs. 10% paying low attention to
TV ads report heavier weekly alcohol consumption.
Averaging across eight specific liquor brands, 37% of those who pay
higher attention to TV ads vs. 21% who pay low attention report annual
consumption of those brands.
In the past year, 44% of young adults paying higher attention to TV ads have tried a new brand of liquor (compared to 30% of respondents paying low attention).
A national sample of 608 youth aged 15-20 found that:
38% of teenagers who pay higher attention to TV ads vs. 21% of those
paying lower attention report an intention to consume two or more liquor
drinks per week in the future.
By a six-to-one margin,15-20 year olds believe that it’s riskier for
teenagers to drink liquor than beer, and that teens are likelier to get
drunk from liquor than beer.
Most teenagers and young adults feel that liquor advertisers want
teens to view their TV ads, and a majority say TV advertisers are trying
to influence teens to drink liquor. In a national poll, only one-fourth
of all adults believe that liquor advertisers can be trusted to show
appropriate content in TV ads. When asked about the potential impact if
liquor becomes widely-advertised on TV, the typical adult estimates that
more than half of all teenage viewers would be influenced to start
Focus group discussions with middle school and high school students showed that these ad features are appealing to youthful audiences: sexy, young-looking and "cool" characters, cute animals, humor, sports, upbeat music, fast-paced action, and the portrayal of fun party scenes.
1. Strasburger, V.C.; Donnerstein, E.
"Children, Adolescents, and the Media: Issues and Solutions," Pediatrics,
103:(1):129- 139, 1999.