Says Youth Are Swimming in Alcohol Ads
June 24, 2008
original report from CAMY is available at
CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Youth exposure to alcohol
advertising climbed sharply between 2001 and 2007,
according to a study released today by Georgetown
University's Center for Alcohol Marketing & Youth.
According to the study, the average 12- to 20-year-old
TV viewer saw an average of 301 ads for alcoholic
beverages during 2007, up from 217 during 2001 and from
285 during 2006.
That increase occurred despite the adoption of standards
by alcohol-industry trade groups that instructed members
not to advertise where 30% or more of the audience was
under 21 years of age, the study found.
Putting the blame on cable
The primary culprit for the increase in youth exposure,
according to CAMY director David Jernigan, was cable
advertising, particularly on niche channels such as
Comedy Central, E!, Oxygen, FX and VH1. "The problem
isn't sports," Mr. Jernigan said, referring to the
traditional hub for beer advertising. "The problem is
rising alcohol advertising is a tide that lifts all
Mr. Jernigan said that many of the cable programs
utilized by alcohol advertisers draw a disproportionate
share of sub-21 viewers. Cable, the study found, was
responsible for nearly two-thirds of the increased
alcohol ad placements seen by youth and 95% of the total
number of youth overexposed to alcohol advertising on
TV. The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau could not be
reached for comment at press time.
The medium has seen a dramatic increase in spending from
spirits marketers during the study period, as barriers
to placing liquor ads on cable have been greatly relaxed
over the last decade. Spirits ads were responsible for
41% of cable youth overexposed to alcohol marketing, the
study found, compared to 53% for brewers, who have
continued to aggressively deploy both cable and
For the first time, CAMY released a list of what it
deemed the worst offenders, a ranking based both on the
percentage of ads placed and also on adhering to the 30%
framework established by the industry.
According to CAMY, the alcohol brands most seen by
youth, in order, were: Miller Lite (Miller Brewing),
Corona Extra (Crown Imports), Coors Light (Coors
Brewing), Hennessy cognac (Moet-Hennessy), Guinness (Diageo),
Samuel Adams (Boston Beer), Bud Light (Anheuser-Busch),
Smirnoff vodka (Diageo), Disaronno amaretto (Bacardi),
Miller Chill (Miller) and Mike's Hard Lemonade.
The group also singled out seven brands that are best at
keeping ads away from youth: Michelob (A-B), Santa
Margherita, Korbel, Arbor Mist, Rolling Rock (A-B),
Michelob Ultra (A-B) and Kahlua (Pernod Ricard).
In a statement responding to the report, the Distilled
Spirits Council of the United States took issue with
CAMY's methodology, which it said undercounted adults.
"The Distilled Spirits Council has always disagreed with
CAMY's methodology, and the FTC has pointed out its
flaws in its 2003 Report to Congress. Most important,
the inflammatory language of the CAMY press release
obscures the fact that while advertising on cable TV was
up in 2001-2007, underage drinking is down significantly
by all major measures during the same period."
A spokesman for Miller Brewing, which markets two of the
offending brands on CAMY's list, said: "CAMY continues
to distort the facts about advertising. We have long
maintained one of the industry's best self-regulated
advertising review processes, and we remain committed to
ensuring that we are in full compliance with the 70%
placement standard and responsibly marketing our
products to legal-drinking-age consumers."
CAMY calls it quits
Citing the statistics, CAMY has called for the industry
to tighten its own cap for underage viewers to 15% from
30%, but the group won't be around to see out that call.
The center is dissolving itself in response to a federal
law that created a government entity charged with
tracking youth exposure to alcohol advertising. "We're
hoping the government picks up the slack from here,"
said Mr. Jernigan, who added that he will remain
involved in issues surrounding youth exposure to alcohol
and food marketing.
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