Get Them Laughing to Get Them Drinking: An Analysis of Alcohol Advertising Themes Across Multiple Media in Australia
Efforts to develop and implement effective advertising regulations require a comprehensive understanding of alcohol promotion techniques used across a rapidly growing range of media platforms. The aim of this study was to analyze themes commonly used in alcohol ads in order to identify commonalities and differences by media type and the implications for existing regulatory frameworks.
In total, 628 Australian alcohol advertisements were coded according to media used for dissemination and themes known to be attractive to children and young people or problematic in other ways:
- value for money,
- buying in bulk,
- sexual attraction, and
- adrenaline activities.
The largest proportion of analyzed ads belonged to the out-of-home category (41%), followed by the online category (27%), indicating the importance of ensuring that these media are appropriately covered by regulations.
Overall, humor was the most common theme (present in 18% of ads), followed by value for money (14%), sports (14%), and bulk purchases (10%).
Humor often co-occurred with other themes: 59% of ads with a sexual attraction theme, 40% of ads depicting mateship/friendship, 31% of ads depicting manliness, and 27% of ads with a partying theme also featured humor.
Trends were evident in the types of themes most commonly used in ads disseminated via specific media, indicating that alcohol marketers are strategically selecting media platforms for particular themes.
The results of this study demonstrate that alcohol advertising controls need to cover all media, be clear in delineating inappropriate themes, and be adequately authorized to ensure compliance.