Television alcohol ads on rise, study shows

Alcohol is being advertised more often on U.S. television and more teen-agers and children are seeing it, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The number of alcohol ads on network, local and cable television in the United States increased to 289,381 in 2002, up 39 percent from 2001, the team at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University in Washington found.

They found that spending on such ads grew by 22 percent to more than $990 million in 2002. The study showed that children and young adults aged between 12 and 20, below the legal drinking age of 21, were more likely than adults to have seen 66,218 of the ads - a 30 percent increase over 2001.

“This dramatic increase in alcohol ads seen by our children in 2002 suggests the problem got worse,” said Jim O’Hara, executive director of the Center. “While a step in the right direction, the industry’s new marketing codes lag far behind its aggressive marketing practices.”

O’Hara’s team commissioned Virtual Media Resources of Natick, Massachusetts, to analyze all of the alcohol product advertising on television in 2002.

They used TNS Media Intelligence/CMR to assess how often ads occurred and how much was spent on them, and Nielsen Media Research provided the audience data.

They found that programs aimed at least partly at teens were filled with alcohol advertising. All 15 of the television shows most popular with teens, such as “Survivor” and “Fear Factor,” had advertisements for alcohol, they said.

Alcohol advertising is not formally regulated but the industry voluntarily sets standards.

David Jernigan, research director at the center, said distillers and brewers need to aim to target fewer teens.

“The data demonstrate that the alcohol industry needs to make major changes in its advertising just to comply with its current code,” Jernigan said in a statement. “But parents and policymakers need to understand that even this industry standard is offering false hope. Youth will still be overexposed to alcohol advertising.”

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD