Sould Budweiser's Web site starring Louie the Lizard (shown here) steer young "netizens" down a path that leads to underage drinking? A Washington, D.C.-based children's advocacy group thinks so.
The Center for Media Education last week issued two reports criticizing sophisticated online advertising techniques that it claims help market alcohol and tobacco products to children.
Of the 77 beer, wine and spirits sites examined, 62 percent appealed to youths, the alcohol study found. Similarly, of 66 tobacco sites studied, 23 percent featured chat rooms and message boards which young people would find attractive, and many glamorized smoking.
"We are appealing to the industry and want to call for responsible advertising," said Kathryn Montgomery, CME president.
CME sent copies of the studies to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. Congress has asked the FTC to prepare a report on how well industry self-regulation works when it comes to alcohol advertising. The report is due out next year.