Alcohol Ads Targeting Teens

A study conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) took a look at alcohol advertising and what demographic is most likely to be targeted. What they found is startling to some – ads for alcohol are being seen most by under-aged drinkers. In fact, when this was further investigated, researchers found that some of the most popular alcohol brands were behind the movement to target those under the legal drinking age.

Bud Light and Coors Light beer as well as Smirnoff and Absolut vodka were the biggest offenders. Their ads are placed in areas that have a heavy teen traffic pattern. These companies are taking out ads in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, US Weekly and Vogue – whose following are largely readers under 21.

The study is the first of its kind. No other research group has taken a look at the amount of exposure a younger demographic has towards alcohol ads. According to the study, males between the ages of 18 and 20 are nine times more likely to view ads related to alcoholic beverages, specifically the alcoholic beverages made by Bud Light beer. Females in the same age group are five times more likely to see ads for Bud Light beer.

One of the researchers commented on the oddity that Bud Light beer and other top alcoholic beverage companies would spend so much money on advertising to those who cannot legally purchase their product. There is not much government regulation when it comes to alcohol advertising. Generally, the alcohol companies regulate themselves. Most companies do not advertise in magazines that where more than 30 percent of the readers are under the age of 21. In the case of these companies, they are doing the exact opposite.

While the researchers are not saying that the alcohol companies are doing this on purpose, they are pointing out that this practice has to change. Some may speculate that they are trying to build brand loyalty before the legal drinking age, but advertising to them now certainly can have negative consequences.