FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 26, 1995
CONTACT: George Hacker 202/332-9110 x343
This advertising decline has been accompanied by a parallel, though more modest, reduction in both alcohol consumption and the incidence of several major alcohol-related social problems, from alcohol-related traffic fatalities to binge drinking by high school students.
"We've always known that advertising works," commented George Hacker, director of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project and author of the study. "Now we see that not advertising pays dividends, too. Whether or not this 'double dip' is a direct case of cause and effect, common sense tells us that it's more than coincidence."
CSPI's new 24-page report, "Double Dip: The Simultaneous Decline of Alcohol Advertising and Alcohol Problems in the United States," reviews and summarizes a wide range of industry and government data for the period 1986-93.
Among the key findings:
Had ad spending remained at its 1986 level, Hacker noted, today we would be seeing nearly twice as many messages glorifying alcohol consumption.
On the media side of the equation, broadcasters bore the brunt of the advertising cuts but apparently suffered little economic damage, as broadcast advertising revenue soared from $30 billion to $40 billion (in actual dollars) over the same time period.
What's behind this dramatic decline in media advertising by the alcohol industry? CSPI's Hacker points to a constellation of factors: the advent of a national minimum legal drinking age of 21, eliminating millions of potential customers; a scarcity of advertising dollars due to widespread price discounting; diversion of advertising funds to "event" marketing such as sporting events and concert tours; concern over growing public criticism of alcohol advertising; and allocation of industry resources to finance the purchase of international alcoholic-beverage producers.
"Whatever the reasons," concludes Hacker, "this is a welcome trend."
Nonetheless, alcohol advertising remains pervasive and many of the industry's remaining ads continue to target young people and heavy drinkers. CSPI's report concludes by calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to commence a comprehensive investigation of alcohol advertising and promotional practices, focusing in particular on the extent to which advertising encourages consumption among young people and heavy drinkers.
The report also calls on Congress to eliminate the tax deduction for alcohol advertising expenses; ban advertising directed at or reaching large numbers of young people or heavy drinkers; require specific warning messages on remaining alcohol advertising; and require broadcasters to balance alcohol ads with effective messages to promote abstinence among young people and oppose heavy drinking among adults.
Copies of "Double Dip: The Simultaneous Decline of Alcohol Advertising and Alcohol Problems in the United States" are available for $5 each by writing to CSPI - DD, 1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, consumer-advocacy organization specializing in food, nutrition, and public-health issues. CSPI accepts no government or corporate funds. Its work is supported largely by the more than 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter.
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