Alcohol Ads Up; Youth Drinking Flat


According to a study of alcohol TV advertising released by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, the alcohol industry has some work to do to meet its self-imposed mandate to reduce the number of such ads in programming with significant youth viewership. Industry representatives countered that the study undercuts its own conclusions.

The study comparing 2001 to 2003 found that the number of beer, wine, "alcopop" or distilled spirits ads in shows with more than 30% viewership ages 12-20 was up 48% over that time (from 24,512 ads to 36,344).

The study points out that the industry didn't make its voluntary pledge not to advertise in shows with a 30%-plus youth audiences until September 2003, but say that the survey indicates they have a way to go to meet that obligation.

In addition, CAMY says that "preliminary analysis" suggests the shift of ads away from such programming has yet to occur. Daniel Jaffe, EVP, of the association of National Advertisers agrees, would be surprised. "I would have to look at that more closely, but I certainly know from talking to our members and to others in the industry that there is a major effort on to try to be careful about how we place our ads."

Adonis Hoffman, SVP and counsel for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, was still studying the study, but he points out that while CAMY cites an explosion of distilled spirits ads--from 513 in 2001 to 33,126 in 2003--with cable leading the way, it also says that underage drinking has remained flat. "That suggests that some of the [longstanding] limitations have been helpful in reaching the desired audience, which leads to the conclusion that self-regulation is a responsible way to go."

Jaffe agrees: "Their data undercuts their argument. If in fact these ads were having this terribly damaging effect that they allege, then you would expect an explosion of activity would at least show some increase in usage."