FTC: ‘Alcopops’ Don’t Target Teens

WASHINGTON, D.C. Marketing for flavored malt beverages known as “alcopops” do not target underage drinkers, the Federal Trade Commission found in its latest report to Congress issued on Tuesday.

“The Commission’s investigation of flavored malt beverages indicates that adults appear to be the intended target of…marketing, and that the products have established a niche in the adult market,” the report concluded. “The investigation found no evidence of targeting underage consumers.”

Congress asked the FTC to investigate how well alcohol advertisers complied with the recommendations the government agency made in its last report to lawmakers in 1999. The FTC’s 1999 report criticized some alcohol industry codes that required ads be restricted to media where 50 percent of the audience is 21 or older.

In response, the beer and liquor industry today said it will restrict ads to media where 70 percent of the audience is 21 or older [Adweek, Sept. 8]. The wine industry’s code already follows that guideline.

“FTC officials have always been vigilant in reviewing beer industry advertising practices, and our members have taken their inquiries and guidance seriously,” said Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute.

Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. said his industry is committed to responsible marketing. “These revisions significantly enhance and modernize our 69-year-old code,” Cressy said.

The 1999 report also called for the industry to use independent reviewers to determine if ads complied with industry codes. In the changes announced today, the Distilled Spirits Council has established an external advisory board to review ads at the request of member companies. Meanwhile, Coors has adopted its own third-party review system.