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Beer Ads Aired By Brands Popular With Underage Drinkers Often Violate Industry Codes, Appeal To Youths

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Beer Ads Aired By Brands Popular With Underage Drinkers Often Violate Industry Codes, Appeal To Youths

Researchers from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) recently published a study that suggests that beer brands popular with underage consumers are more likely to air television beer ads which include youth-appealing content – thereby violating the alcohol industry’s voluntary code.

The research, which was recently published in the journal Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research, contends that beer brands preferred by youths are among the most flagrant violators of the industry’s policy that was designed to restrict ad content that appeals to youths.

From the study:

“This is the first systematic investigation of the relationship between beer brands popular among youth and these brands’ youth-targeted contents among their television [ads]…”

“It is no news that advertisements influence consumer behaviors, but to discover such a close link between brand-specific youth-appealing advertisement content and beer brand preference among underage drinkers is new, and certainly a concerning public health issue.”

About The Study:

Researchers examined a list of 288 beer ads among 23 brands that aired during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournaments from 1999-2008. A panel of health professionals rated the ads to evaluate the presence of content that may appeal to youths.

To determine the brand preferences of youths, they examined a recent nationwide survey of more than 1,000 drinkers aged 13-20 who had consumed one or more drinks in the past month.

Researchers discovered that ads were aired more than 1,700 times, averaging six minutes of viewing time. Ads deemed to be industry code violations were frequent – more than 21% of the ads had content that appeared to be primarily directed at youths. Also, brands that were preferred among underage consumers broadcast significantly more ads during the tournaments that less popular brands.

The authors also found every 7% increase in brand popularity correlated to a 70% increase in the likelihood that the brand had violated the youth-appeal code.

Alcohol is the leading illicit substance consumed by U.S. youths, more popular than other drugs or tobacco. To exhibit corporate responsibility, alcohol industry groups formed voluntary codes that state that alcohol ads should only appeal to adults. Still, it appears that there have been frequent violations of this code.

From the study:

“These results suggest that some beer producers are successfully targeting underage youth and therefore deriving profits from illegal alcohol consumption.”

“Our evidence underscores the need for strong and independent enforcement of the code to prevent continued inclusion of youth-appealing content in alcohol marketing materials.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology



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