Denying alcohol advertisers have a problem doesn’t make it go away

Bud_americandream_1People who advertise alcohol for a living insist that their messages don’t foster underage drinking(password required, sorry).  But at least two studies have detailed exactly how the playful promotion of adult beverages appeals to kids.  A report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest showed that the heavy beer advertising behind sporting events ($540 million for 90,000 ads in 2003) reached a large audience of children (93 percent aged 8-17 watched sports events). The advertising “creates positive associations between drinking and the traits associated with athletes and teams: strength, loyalty, endurance, success, health, vitality, fun, fitness and speed,” researchers say. “Promotion of youth-oriented events such as snowboarding, extreme sports and biking create an aura of coolness around a product – and grab the attention of a new generation of future drinkers.”  And a recent study by Washington State University noted the similarity between advertising for booze and products geared toward children. One example the researchers cited were Captain Morgan ads that used a “childish” activity – drawing mustaches on people.  A Jack Daniels ad featured a puppy. “We discovered that one of every six magazine ads for alcohol and one of every 14 TV ads appeared to target teenagers,” said Erica Austin professor at WSU’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication.  Hmm.  Maybe we should rethink that Budweiser Super Bowl commercial in which a Clydesdale colt dreams of joining the team.  Nah!

—Posted by Richard Williamson