The problem with alcohol advertising

Furthermore, although on average these influencers posted three alcoholposts, there were some influencers who posted 15–16 alcoholposts. This massive exposure to influencers’ alcoholposts is very worrisome, especially because influencers are new kinds of celebrities that young people nowadays frequently aspire to become themselves . There is currently limited, low quality evidence on whether restrictions on alcohol advertising have an impact on alcohol consumption. Focusing only on this evidence could lead to poorly informed policy decisions based on a narrow understanding of how alcohol advertising influences alcohol use.

  • Prohibition may be well and truly over but alcohol companies are nowhere near as free as in the US as they are in the UK.
  • Restricting alcohol marketing is suggested to be a cost-effective policy option to reduce alcohol consumption.
  • This stresses the need for new legislation that also incorporates the complicated new world of social media.
  • Although this is a challenging and cumbersome task, this is essential to understand the full exposure of minors to alcohol content posted by influencers.

Considering the fact that most of these influencers have many followers and earn a lot of money for a single advertised post, it seems hard to believe that they would advertise for these brands for free. If it is indeed the case that some of these influencers were paid to advertise for an alcohol brand, it is questionable that they advertise for alcohol-related products while not being transparent about this. Furthermore, as argued, it is highly likely that there are many minors being exposed to this branded content.

Content of Coding – Influencers

Research has found that exposure to alcohol advertising is linked to children drinking from an earlier age and in a riskier way. 82% of young people in one research study recalled seeing at least one form of alcohol marketing in the past month. First, our first study was conducted among older adolescents and young adults. Therefore, the influencers we analyzed might differ slightly from those influencers popular among minors. However, as already argued, based on a previous pilot study , we can be quite certain that several of the influencers we studied have a fair share of minors among their followers. Furthermore, based on the second study that we conducted among minors, we were able to make somewhat stronger claims about the generalizability of the results to the context of minors’ exposure to alcoholposts of influencers.

For example, a glaring case of advertising which does not comply with the principles of our legal system is represented by the decision of the Jury regarding a message conveyed by a well-known beer producer. In confirmation of the above, concerning the most easily suggestible segment of the population, the legislator has provided for rules to protect their exposure to potentially harmful messages. In a post hoc additional study among minors, we investigated whether similar results would be obtained regarding RQ1 and RQ4. “We only need to think of how easily we recognise brands simply from a distinctive colour or font to realise how powerful marketing is.

alcohol advertising

The Scottish Government is being called upon to take further action in a bid to tackle the “public health emergency”. The paper “Do UK television advertisements abide by the Code of Broadcast Advertising rules regarding the portrayal of alcohol? ” by Rebecca Searle; Daisy Alston and David P. French is published in the Journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Reducing harm caused by alcohol

The ads themselves have to contain warnings about the potential harm caused by drinking but they still get through, a fact which upsets Swedish jurisdiction. Alcohol advertising is some of the most highly regulated marketing in the world. With such tight restrictions the majority of this industry tries to self-regulate, however there are countries worldwide where some, or all, forms of advertisement for alcohol is banned. However, the closure of bars due to the pandemic saw this change rapidly.

  • In a survey of year olds in England, 13% had engaged with alcohol marketing on social media.
  • Alcohol advertising is some of the most highly regulated marketing in the world.
  • A French national only has to log on to a UK website and there are all the campaigns that person’s government has been protecting them from in the name of their own health.
  • The advertisement depicted the bestowal of beer first offered in spurts, then with a “fountain” jet and again, in crescendo, in a “cascade”.
  • A second limitation is that we looked at the content of the influencers’ profiles, and did not link this to the responses (e.g., drinking behavior) of teens directly.

However, there remains a need to understand the emerging tactics used by alcohol marketers on digital media and how young people are now active participants in the process of alcohol promotion. These positive and social posts are likely to enhance the perception that drinking alcohol is normal and “fun,” and consequently may encourage alcohol use. This is in line with classical theories, such as the two-step flow theory and the diffusion of innovations theory (Lazarsfeld et al., 1944; Katz, 1957; Rogers, 1983), suggesting that messages are spread through processes of interpersonal communication. Furthermore, this is in line with both social norms theory and social learning theory (Bandura and Walters, 1977; Perkins and Berkowitz, 1986; Berkowitz, 2004).

A reduction in five to eight percent across a national market such as the US or UK could be huge. Some studies argue that a ban does decrease consumption, others say not at all. Until a truly global study is undertaken, following countries with bans for many years, it’s impossible to say.

Alcohol marketing

Overall, 75% of participants rated each of the adverts as breaching at least one rule from the BCAP Code. The public believes that television alcohol adverts breach their regulatory controls. There is a clear need to strengthen the rules, argues Professor David French.

Philadelphia already operates such a ban and in San Francisco alcohol advertising is not permitted on public transport. A systems-level analysis would consider findings from multiple systematic reviews alongside the broader evidence base to understand how alcohol advertising fits into a complex web of interrelated factors (the ‘alcohol system’) contributing to alcohol consumption. This study looked at how increasing the price of non-alcoholic drinks could influence purchases of alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and cider, in supermarkets. The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of lower strength alcohol labelling on consumption.

Regulations ban advertisements from implying that alcohol can contribute to popularity or confidence, or that it is capable or changing mood, physical condition or behaviour. The industry is supposed to use television advertising to promote brands, not to enlarge the size of the market. There are detailed rules on alcohol advertising in Section 9 of the BCAP Code.

This touches upon some practical implications, because for influencers it can be difficult how to communicate with their followers about branded content. A potential solution would be to stimulate (e.g., potentially reinforced by Instagram itself) every influencer who is being paid in one way or another for a post to disclose this clearly in that post. This is in line with new legislation in some countries (e.g., Germany; Knitter, 2019) in which it is obligatory for all influencers to disclose a post as advertising if they have received a form of compensation for it. Applying such legislation may be useful and clear in other countries as well, because if every influencer is required to behave in the same way, the potential loss of popularity is evenly divided among all influencers. These results lend some qualified support to the public health case for restrictions, bans, or other policies that would reduce exposure to on visual broadcast media to reduce alcohol consumption.

Restricting alcohol marketing is suggested to be a cost-effective policy option to reduce alcohol consumption. There is debate as to whether alcohol marketing exposure leads to increased drinking. The fact that advertising is self regulated means that advertisers can and do ‘bend the rules’ in very subtle ways.

In this set of bar studies, we found that increasing the size of wine glasses led to an almost 10% increase in wine sales for some comparisons between smaller and larger glasses. However, we did not see significant differences for some other comparisons between glasses of different sizes. Similar clustering in perceived strength was observed amongst the high verbal descriptors. Regular was the most appealing strength descriptor, with the low and high verbal descriptors using intensifiers rated least appealing. Another problem is that most of our regulatory and policy frameworks are built on the assumption that marketing can be monitored – that it is accountable to independent scrutiny.

In France, the government’s ‘Loi Evin’, introduced in 1991, comprehensively restricts the content and placement of alcohol marketing. It includes a ban on television and cinema adverts, a ban on cultural events sponsorship, and limits the content to factual information only. However, even with this law, there are ways for the alcohol industry to circumvent the rules through ‘alibi marketing’.

A new ban on alcohol advertising during sporting events in Ireland came into force this month, which some have compared to France’s Loi Evin. THanks so much for your commemnts, it would be great if this blog went viral! I hate it that the adverts and the glamorizing of drinking in movies and on TV just isn’t real and doesn’t show the true effects of drinking, it just shows that initial, pretty first moment. The truth is that alcohol is a deadly, toxic substance and wouldn’t be allowed to be on the market today if it was just discovered and I agree it is too much of a money maker.

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This study is the first to illustrate how influencers communicate about alcohol on Instagram. Furthermore, although quite a few posts showed alcohol brands, only a couple of these posts disclosed this content as an advertisement, and even fewer gave an educational slogan. There is thus a lot to be concerned about in this context, especially since many minors can be exposed to such alcoholposts, potentially leading to increased drinking among this vulnerable age group. We therefore advice future researchers to further explore this issue, and suggest that adjustments in legislation for alcohol advertisements are necessary to effectively account for the context of social media. Although evidence exists of peers sharing alcohol-related content, it is not clear how often influencers who are popular among minors post about alcohol.

Social norms theory describes that behavior is based on people’s perceptions of how others behave and what they approve of, and similarly social learning theory suggests that behavior can be learned from observing others. Both theories would seem to suggest that seeing alcoholposts on social media leads to the perception that others are also doing it (i.e., descriptive norms) and approve of it (i.e., injunctive norms; Cialdini and Trost, 1999). Importantly, studies confirm that not only posting, but also seeing, alcoholposts can increase alcohol use (Geusens et al., 2019). In the UK we have a co- and self-regulatory system, where alcohol companies have a degree of control over how the industry is regulated.

  • This data is leveraged to train algorithmic models that target us constantly – at particular locations and times of the day, respond to our activities and what we’ve been chatting about.
  • Furthermore, as argued, it is highly likely that there are many minors being exposed to this branded content.
  • The rules which apply to ads across all media place a particular emphasis on protecting young people.
  • They also want to introduce health warnings on labels, they want to stop any form of advertising at sporting events and crucially tighter restrictions on when and how alcohol can be advertised in the media.
  • Of course the reduction in alcohol consumption would mean less revenue for the government on taxes but advertisers are not the only ones who can be creative when it comes to generating income.

Social media marketing is particularly unregulated, because it is so new. This means it is a space where alcohol companies can take the opportunity to target advertising towards particular audiences. In a survey of year olds in England, 13% had engaged with alcohol marketing on social media. In 2019, the market value of alcoholic beverages is approximately 65 billion euros. With the UK government earning 11.6 billion pounds raised by taxes on alcohol in 2018.

But where brands are really under attack is their potential targeting of young people. Not only in alcohol advertisements banned in the United Arab Emirates but technically drinkers are supposed to have their own personal license to consume booze. All alcohol must be out of eco sober house rating sight unless you are directly seeking it out in a bar. The national law bans advertisements for anything but ‘class 1’ booze, or light beer. Alcohol above 3.5% isn’t supposed to be marketed, however, newspapers get away with it thanks to the provisions of an EU directive.

Television advertising of alcohol products must comply with the BCAP Code – the Advertising Standards Authority’s Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice Code. But, until our survey, there has been no impartial study examining the success of the BCAP Code and whether advertisements abide by it. Alcohol advertising influences adolescents’ alcohol consumption, concludes Science Group of Alcohol and Health Forum. Ads intended to counter problem drinking or tell consumers about alcohol-related health & safety themes should not promote an alcoholic product or brand.