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Study: Alcohol Marketing to Youths Shifts from Print to Cable TV



December 19, 2007


Cable TV alcohol advertising aimed at young people has jumped dramatically, a new study has found.

The research from the Council on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that while there’s been a 50% drop in magazine exposure for such advertisements, cable TV ads are a booming category for booze purveyors. The data is contained in CAMY’s new study out today, Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising on Television and in National Magazines, 2001 to 2006.

The study found that while overall youth exposure to alcohol marketing has declined roughly 6% from 2001 to 2006, TV exposure is growing.

“There’s been an explosion in the TV medium,” said CAMY’s executive director David Jernigan, adding that television had seen a strong increase in youth exposure to alcohol marketing during the study period, and that the main drivers have been the distilled spirits brands. “Alcohol marketers are all over the cable channels. The last thing kids need is more exposure to alcohol ads, and putting those ads on [TV] stations does exactly that.”

According to Jernigan, the top three offenders on the channel roster are Comedy Central, VH1 and BET. While the latter two have made efforts to reduce the volume of their alcohol marketing, Comedy Central’s has only grown since 2001. CAMY data shows that both VH1 and BET peaked in 2004, with $11 million and $3.6 million in advertising revenues from alcohol marketers, respectively, while those numbers had since fallen to $1.5 million and $2,800 by the end of 2006. Conversely, Comedy Central has been on a steady increase since 2003, reaching $21.3 million in ad revenues from alcohol marketers in 2006.

A shrinking market, magazine ad revenues from distilled spirits reached its peak in 2002 at $261 million industrywide, a lofty sum that dwindled to $205 million by 2006. Moving away from print marketing, Jernigan said he felt distilled spirits marketers were increasingly looking to TV as a means of “leveling the playing field with beer” marketing.

Still, Jernigan added that with the variety of programs for those marketers to choose to place their ads, selecting shows that rate higher for viewers under the legal drinking age was a marketing misstep. A simulation conducted by the watchdog agency in 2004 showed that if alcohol marketers shifted their creative to programs below 15% youth-audience composition, the advertisers would save 8% of their ad spend with “virtually no impact on their ability to reach 21- to 34-year-olds,” Jernigan said.

A complete PDF version of the report can be found Here.


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