The Alcohol Advertising And Adolescent Drinking Media Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Media|
|✅ Wordcount: 2530 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
Alcohol is the most popular recreational drug in America, so beer and liquor companies advertise on various television channels. Recent research has discovered cable television shows with a significant proportion of teenage viewers are also those that have the most commercials for alcohol. There are many explanations why adolescents are influenced in to drink alcohol and there is reason to believe television advertisements have a large role. As alcohol advertisers turn towards cable television the exposure to younger viewers will escalate. The amount of money spent on alcohol advertising on cable television increased by 137% from 2001 to 2006. The extra money spent attributed to an increase of the number of alcohol commercials by 176% (Chung, Garfield, & Elliott 2010). With over double the amount of new advertisements many alcohol companies started to compete against each other for the best commercials. For instance, Miller lite aired a commercial about a group of friends at a bar who all agree their one friend is “unmanly” for ordering a Bud lite. Competitive advertising of alcohol has resulted in new branding techniques that are effective across all viewers including the adolescent audience (Jones & Jernigan, 2010).
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Assessing the influence of alcohol advertising on people’s drinking habits is a challenging task. Alcohol is an adult product, yet most underage consumers are already aware of its existence. This unavoidably limits the potential effects that alcohol advertising could have on increasing overall consumption. Due to the existing popularity of this product, advertisers focus on creating an appealing brand rather than increasing the total market. While new consumers are not advertisers’ target, the power of alcohol advertising campaigns to shape consumption habits cannot be neglected.
Criticism has been directed toward alcohol advertising, particularly regarding the use of image (lifestyle) advertising, and its potential influence on adolescent alcohol consumption. This research study sought to determine if adolescents who drink, or intend to drink alcohol at some future time, find image advertisements for alcohol more appealing than product advertisements. 40 college students, ages 18 to 20, volunteered to fill out the survey. This study is focused on attitudes and beliefs towards alcohol brands and advertising rather than on consumption behavior. Attitudes and beliefs about alcohol advertisements are not irrelevant to understanding how advertising might influence consumption. Evidence of an association between preference for image advertisements and intent to drink in the future has been found in previous studies and experiments.
When considering whether advertising has an impact upon young people’s alcohol intake, it is important to recognize that drinking alcohol can be influenced by a range of psychological, social and environmental factors. Parents, siblings, and groups of friends can have a significant influence. They can provide behavioral role models and establish a positive attitude towards drinking. Although this research survey is concerned with the effects of advertising of alcoholic beverages on adolescent’s alcohol consumption, it is beneficial to understand the other factors associated with the onset of alcohol related behavior.
Surveys of teenagers and young adults have determined that alcohol consumption is often significantly related to peer-group influences. A particularly powerful predictor of their drinking behavior is whether their friends drink alcohol. Research has indicated that adolescents may be especially inclined to consume alcohol if their best friend also does. It was also found that if a teenager’s best friend drank they were more likely to label themselves as a drinker (Wilks, Callan & Austin, 1989). In a televised commercial for 1800 tequila an actor posed the question, “What ever happened to best buddies?” He goes on to demean people who have hundreds of virtual friends online then finished the commercial with the statement, “A buddy is somebody who you share your 1800 tequila with.”
Parental influences can have important effects on teenager alcohol consumption as well. Most of the time parental rules about drinking come into conflict with peer-group norms. These rules may exert a powerful influence over teenagers expressed intentions to drink alcohol in the future, possibly weakening those intentions. However, such effects may be limited to young people who have so far not felt any social pressures to drink from their peer group. Teenagers with friends who drink may be more likely to reject family restrictions on alcohol consumption especially if they had their own involvements that lead to positive experiences about alcohol. An important note to keep in mind is further evidence has indicated that drinking onset is not a simple matter of copycat behavior. Dissimilar young people make different assessments of relevant group activities and beliefs linked to drinking (Thomsen & Rekve, 2006).
According to the World Health Organization, alcohol advertising can produce positive perceptions of drinking in all people and as an outcome young people may be more susceptible to possessing pro-drinking attitudes. The World Health Organization has two reasons to believe why advertising can cause this. The first of these is that exposure to alcohol advertising over time can lead young people to perceive drinking as a normal behavior and, as a result, an activity in which they wish to participate. The second reason is that alcohol advertising may reach children and encourage alcohol consumption well before they are legally old enough to purchase the product. In a survey with children, the majority answered that they believed alcohol advertising can cause alcohol consumption. This discovery along with evidence that mere awareness of alcohol advertisements could be linked to positive beliefs about alcohol, which is in turn related with future intent to drink. In this context, there is no surprise that liking of alcohol advertisements has also emerged as a significant factor in understanding potential effects (Babor, 2003).
In 1984 an experiment was led by Kohn and Smart who showed a recording of Super Bowl 1982 to 125 male college students. Three versions of the program were produced that included zero, four or nine beer advertisements. Refreshments were available and among the drinks, participants could choose from soft drinks or beer. One half of the students were given immediate access to beer while the second half had to wait 30 minutes before given beverages. When beer was available it was consumed and the delay in beer resulted in compensatory behavior in the second group who had the largest amount of consumption. This experiment found that when alcohol advertising occurred there was a temporary upward in beer consumption. “Even in conditions where consumption was decreasing, a first time appearance of beer advertisement could temporarily boost consumption again” (Kohn & Smart, 1984). Kohn and Smart conducted a similar experiment with college women except the independent variable was switched with wine. This experiment proved women consumed more wine when they saw four or more wine advertisements compared to none. These results indicate that television alcohol advertising is capable of triggering a short term effect on alcohol consumption. “Such studies may demonstrate the ability of advertisements to shape a preference for one type of drink over another, but they do not indicate anything about the role advertising might play in the genesis of alcohol consumption in individuals” (Kohn & Smart, 1984).
Alcohol advertising is often associated with sports and athletic activities. For example Coors beer had a campaign that honored multiple athletes including the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. Advertisements that feature athlete images tend to perpetuate both the brands’ and consumers’ denial of potential consequences of drinking. Along with athletic imagery, critics view other lifestyle imagery as inappropriate. Some alcohol advertisements give the consumer an unrealistic view of what the products do, how they make the consumer feel, and how they fit in with an individual’s lifestyle. For instance alcohol may be portrayed in a commercial as a reward at the end of a work day. In advertisements drinking is often viewed as a complement to a celebration of life.
Certain television advertisements present alcohol as having the ability to make an individual attractive to the opposite sex or a romance booster. For example, Bud Lite Lime had a commercial on Ultimate Flight Club 132 featuring a young attractive women lying across hundreds of limes. She was not dressed and the limes were used to censor her private parts. She also had a tattoo on her rear end of a Bud Lite Lime logo. Even though she was not holding a beer, this television commercial led the viewers to associate sex and attractive women with Bud Lite Lime. Some critics agree alcohol commercials are associated with sexual imagery more than any other products (Fox, Krugman, Fletcher, & Fisher 1998).
I conducted an original research survey involving students, ages 18 through 20, from Temple University located in Philadelphia. The questions pertained to the student’s memory of alcohol advertisements they were exposed to while watching their normal television shows. The goal was to determine how many underage students were exposed to alcohol advertising through the television medium. The survey also sought to determine what kind of advertising appeal techniques they noticed and how they felt about the advertisements. These seven multiple choice questions were asked to 40 college students:
How many hours a day, on average, do you watch TV? a. Never; b. less than one hour; c. 1-2 hours; d. 2-3 hours; e. More than 3 hours
What are your favorite types of television programs? (Circle all that apply) a. Reality TV; b. Music related/music video; c. Game shows; d. Talk shows; e. Sitcoms/comedies; g. Drama; h. Nature; i. Sports; j. News.
Do you ever see alcohol advertisements while watching TV? a. Yes; b. No.
What do you remember about any of these TV ads you saw? (Circle all that apply) a. An animal or cartoon like character; b. The people drinking look attractive or sexy; c. A great party was happening; d. The actors who were drinking were physically attracted to each other; e. The people drinking looked like they had strength and athletic ability; f. The people in the advertisements looked popular or part of the in-crowd; g. The ads were funny or amusing; h. The ads portrayed drinking as a great way to meet people; i. the ads discussed contests and prizes; j. I remember the alcohol brand.
Did anyone in any of the TV ads look like they could be under 21 years old? a. Yes; b. No.
As a whole, did the TV ads you see make you think any of the following? (Circle all that apply) a. Drinking was a boring thing to do; b. Drinking was a good way to get guys or girls; c. Drinking was important for a real good party; d. Drinking will make you popular; e. drinking was fun or funny; f. drinking could be harmful to your health; g. It is better for people to drink responsibly; h. It is better for people to wait until they are 21 to drink; i. The advertisements had no effect at all on what I thought or felt.
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The role of alcohol advertising appeal was investigated in further longitudinal research that followed though 18-year olds until the age of 21 years old. The study had 630 participants and examined the effect of televised alcohol advertising and allegiance to specific brands of beer. The results found that earlier liking of televised alcohol advertisements and accompanying brand allegiance were associated with greater volume of beer consumption later on. Many self-reports of aggressive behavior from the participants were associated with drinking. Almost all of these individuals expressing aggressive behavior were documented with liking alcohol advertisements when the experiment began (Casswell & Zhang, 1998).
Although many critics recognize that college students’ decisions to drink often come from peer pressure, the images presented in advertising positively reinforce such decisions.
Alcohol is the most popular recreational drug in America, so beer and liquor companies advertise on various television channels. Recent research has discovered cable television shows with a significant proportion of teenage viewers are also those that have the most commercials for alcohol. These advertisers are reaching the wrong demographic and are certainly affecting the younger audiences. (The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth) Should alcohol advertising be modified to limit exposure to underage viewers?
There are many explanations why adolescents are influenced in to drink alcohol and there is reason to believe television advertisements have a large role. As alcohol advertisers turn towards cable television the exposure to younger viewers will escalate. The amount of money spent on alcohol advertising on cable television increased by 137% from 2001 to 2006. The extra money spent attributed to an increase of the number of alcohol commercials by 176%. (Schuster) With over double the amount of new advertisements many alcohol companies started to compete against each other for the best commercials. For instance, Miller lite aired a commercial about a group of friends at a bar who all agree their one friend is “unmanly” for ordering a Bud lite. Competitive advertising of alcohol has resulted in new branding techniques that are effective across all audiences including the adolescent audience. (Jones)
The use of iconic characters, humor, and sexual innuendo are some methods used in alcoholic commercials that evidently attract younger viewers. For example, Keith Stone is portrayed as an influential character who acts smooth because he always has a 30 pack of Keystone. “The Most Interesting Man in the World” is another iconic character that many underage viewers can relate to the product Dos Equis. Young people can also be drawn to the music used in these commercials and associate the songs with the alcoholic product.
It is true that no matter what anybody does, teenagers will never stop viewing TV. It is also true that alcohol companies have to support their business somehow. Just like any other company, advertisements are important to get a product out there and known. However, it is possible to do it in a way where they do not have to make drinking look so appealing to younger kids. Companies could easily not use sex appeal or partying in their ads and still get their product out and known to everyone.
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