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Alcohol Advertising Regulations

January 31, 2013 by  
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Alcohol Advertising

Alcohol Advertising Regulations

Besides tobacco advertising, alcohol advertising is the most highly regulated of any product on the market. In September of last year, alcohol advertisers will be held to a new set of guidelines regarding their social networking sites. Already, the standard is that alcohol advertisements can only be placed in media where 70% of the audience is over the legal drinking age, which includes social media sites. However, many brands are already taking steps to ensure that visitors to the site are over the age of 21.

Alcohol Advertising Regulations: Self-regulation

These alcohol advertising regulations are self-imposed. In the US, alcohol advertising has self-regulatory bodies that create standards for the ethical advertising of alcohol. Because of the strong self-regulation, alcohol advertising has mostly avoided regulation by the federal government.

Alcohol Advertising Regulations: Other regulations

Besides restricting their audience to people over the legal drinking age, alcohol advertising regulations follow a set of guidelines so that ads are ethical. Basically, any marketing to people under the age of 21, for example-using cartoon characters-is strongly discouraged. Also, advertising must not encourage irresponsible drinking or glorify intoxication. Promoting brands based on alcohol content or its effects is prohibited. In addition, alcohol advertisements rarely show people actually consuming the alcohol that is being advertised.

Alcohol Advertising Regulations: Why it’s regulated

Studies have shown that people who have seen ads glorifying alcohol consumption are more likely to think alcohol consumption is safer than it is. Younger viewers have been shown to be particularly susceptible to alcohol advertising.  Regulation of tobacco and alcohol advertising to reduces underage drinking and smoking.

Alcohol Advertising Regulations: What isn’t regulated?

Although alcohol companies try to self-regulate to avoid federal regulations, there are still a lot of companies that have ads that have been criticized for trying to appeal to underage drinkers. For example, alcoholic lemonades, or “alcohols,” have demonstrated appeal to youth drinkers. These drinks are sweeter than traditional alcoholic beverages and they are usually brightly packaged. Wine coolers and alcoholic beverages containing caffeine also tend to appeal to a younger crowd and are marketed as such.

Alcohol advertising regulations also do not have any rules regarding the glorification of alcohol.  They often try to portray alcohol as a “risk-free” activity. For example, many alcoholic beverages imply that it’s all right to consume large portions of alcoholic beverages because they are “less filling” or have “fewer calories.” These ads are supposed to be aimed at dieters, but they are far more effective among problem drinkers.

Ads also tend to give the impression that problem drinking behaviors are normal. Ads that promote drinking at “the end of the day” are advertising daily drinking. Slogans that present alcohol as “your own special hideaway” capitalize on the feelings of loneliness and alienation that is common in alcoholics.

Alcohol advertising also often link alcohol with attributes and qualities that are desirable. These can include happiness, wealth, success, maturity, and sexual satisfaction. Women and people of color are susceptible to this type of advertising.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK37605/

http://pediatrics.about.com/b/2013/01/28/tv-alcohol-ads-influence-underage-drinking.htm

http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/deadly-persuasion-7-myths-alcohol-advertisers-want-you-believe

 

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