Study: Alcohol Companies Target Youths With Magazine Ads

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Study: Alcohol Companies Target Youths With Magazine Ads

I'm neither surprised or shocked by the news that despite assurances to the contrary, alcohol companies target teens in magazine advertising. Still, it's interesting to see the actual data on how it's being done. Given that the companies continue to spend money on this type of advertising, I'm led to the assumption that they must feel that their ads are paying off. Frankly, I'm more eager to see a study on the effectiveness of such advertising.

I might be mistaken, but I believe that peer pressure is a much larger factor than magazine advertising when it comes to how kids are influenced to drink alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages popular among youths are more likely to be advertised in magazines with high youth readership than alcoholic drinks consumed mainly by adults, resulting in disproportionately high youth exposure to such targeted alcohol ads, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Virtual Media Resources who conducted the study -- published in this month's issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health -- say their findings present the strongest evidence to date that alcohol companies are targeting youths through magazine advertising.

They note that three major trade associations representing the alcoholic beverage industry -- the Wine Institute, the Beer Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States -- have publicly stated that they do not advertise to underage youths.

"Alcohol companies are deceiving us," said Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and a co-author of the study.

The researchers found that in magazines with the highest levels of youth readership, youth alcoholic beverage types (e.g., premium beer, low calorie beer, rum, vodka, and flavored alcohol beverages) were more than four times more likely to be advertised than non-youth types (e.g., gin, brandy, whiskey, and scotch). As youth readership increased in a magazine, so did the number of youth alcoholic beverage advertisements.

Source: Science Daily