Big Alcohol Ads Expenditure Fuels Underage Alcohol Use
New research has found Big Alcohol ads expenditure links to and fuels underage alcohol use.
Gentile and colleagues found in their recent study that overall levels of alcohol industry advertising expenditure were strong predictions of adolescents’ beer brand awareness, preferences, use, and brand loyalty.
For example, 99% of middle school and high school students surveyed for the study had heard of Budweiser and Bud Light — the top spender on advertising — and 44% said they had used the brand.
The study’s lead author Gentile says advertisers use cognitive and affective strategies — humor, animation, funny voices, special effects — that often appeal to youth.
The researchers looked at money spent on beer ads to determine the relationship with brand awareness, preference, loyalty and use among teens. They then compared advertising strategies with teens’ intention to use alcohol as an adult and current alcohol consumption.
It was found that out of the 1588 middle and high school students surveyed that:
- More than half (55%) had at least one alcoholic beverage in the past year;
- 31% had one or more alcoholic beverages at least once a month;
- 43% engaged in heavy alcohol use;
- When asked to name their two favorite TV commercials, alcohol-related ads had the highest recall (32%) followed by soft drinks (31%), fashion (19%), automotive (14%) and sports (9%);
- A quarter of those surveyed said they owned alcohol-related products.
If you look at beer ads, advertisers are using all the tricks we know work at grabbing children’s attention,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Douglas A. Gentile, as per EUCAM.
Aggressive alcohol marketing spending
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 14 alcohol companies spent $3.45 billion on marketing in 2011. Of that amount, 26% was spent on advertising. Spending has grown since 1999, when the researchers collected the survey data. At that time, the top five advertised brands (Budweiser/Bud Light, Miller Genuine Draft/Miller Lite, Coors/Coors Light, Corona/Corona Extra and Heineken) spent just over $1 billion.
The researchers also asked teens about their intentions to use alcohol as an adult. Advertising as well as parent and peer approval of alcohol use were all significant predictors of intention to start using alcohol.
Not much has changed since we collected the data, other than amount spent on advertising,” said Professor Gentile, the study’s lead author, as per EUCAM.
Underage [alcohol use] is still a problem, beer companies still advertise and the psychological mechanisms of how ads work and the way teens learn are all the same.”