## Patrick Jamieson and Daniel Romer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342956.001.0001

ContentsFRONT MATTER
• Title Pages
• Dedication
• Preface
• Contributors
• Introduction
• Part I The Emergence and Evolution of a Youth Culture in the Media
• Part II Portrayal of Adolescents and Influential Behaviors
• Part III Evolving Forms of Media Influence
• Part IV Policy Implications for Healthy Adolescent Development
• END MATTER
• Index

# The Changing Portrayal of Alcohol Use in Television Advertising

Chapter:
(p. 284 ) 10 The Changing Portrayal of Alcohol Use in Television Advertising
Source:
The Changing Portrayal of Adolescents in the Media Since 1950
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342956.003.0011

# Abstract and Keywords

Beer has long been heavily advertised on television. Sales to youth under age 21 (primarily males) are estimated to represent 16% of alcohol sales. Early initiation of drinking is linked to alcohol disorders throughout life, and irresponsible use increases risks of motor vehicle accidents and a range of other injuries. In the mid-1980s, the national legal drinking age was raised to 21. As a result, adolescents had far greater legal and social barriers to obtaining beer. A content analysis of beer advertising over time indicates that this change was accompanied by a change in advertising themes, with more ads presenting beer as valuable, rare, and sought after — a message absent prior to this time. Alcohol advertising uses narratives that speak directly to adolescents, reinforcing the idea that beer is a precious commodity. More recently, new products such as “alcopops” — sweet alcohol beverages — are being marketed to attract adolescent female users.

The societal costs of adolescent drinking are considerable. Consumption of alcohol by youth under the age of 21 (the legal age for purchase of the product in the United States) accounts for about 16% of alcohol sales and results in an estimated $62 billion in medical expenses and loss of (p. 285 ) productivity in 2005 (Miller, Levy, Spicer, & Taylor, 2006). These costs result primarily from the many side effects of alcohol use, including motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and other unintentional injuries, all of which are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in young people. Furthermore, people who drink at an early age are at increased risk for dependence and abuse of alcohol throughout life (Grant & Dawson, 1997), especially if they consume heavy amounts of alcohol during adolescence (Bonomo, Bowes, Coffey, Carlin, & Patton, 2004; Hill, White, Chung, Hawkins, & Catalano, 2000). Hence, media portrayal of alcohol consumption is of great concern. There is little doubt that the industry spends heavily on beer advertising. In the most recent year for which data are available,1 the beer industry was reported to have spent over a billion dollars in advertising, the majority of it (nearly$900 million) on television ads. Figure 10.1 shows the trend in overall beer advertising based on data available from 1975 to 2005. The trend in spending clearly peaked in the 1980s only to return to new high levels early in the twenty-first century.

Figure 10.1. Annual spending on beer advertising in the United States in constant 2000 dollars. (Sources: From “Beer Advertising and Marketing Update: Structure, Conduct, and Social Costs,” by Jon P. Nelson, 2005, Review of Industrial Organization, 26, 269–306; Beer Handbook, 1991–2006. San Francisco: Bev-Al Publications.)

# A Focus on Narrative

Previous qualitative studies have used a narrative analysis to assess advertising media during narrowly defined time periods. For example, Postman, Nystrom, Strate, and Weingartner (1987), in their study Myths, Men and Beer, analyzed forty beer commercials broadcast during February and March of 1987 with respect to their portrayal of “cultural myths,” or “patterns (p. 287 ) of beliefs, associations, values, and meanings.” The study, funded by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, focused on the depiction of masculinity in the context of drinking and driving. One primary narrative identified by the researchers was initiation into masculine culture, with beer serving as proof of maturity as well as reward for accomplishment. Work and leisure provide opportunities for male bonding, with a strong emphasis on speed, risk, conquest of nature, and indifference to social pressures as markers of masculinity. These themes were spoofed in ads for “light” beer products; for example, initiation into drinking culture is treated humorously in ads for Bud Light, and the erosion of boundaries between boys and men provide comic narratives for Miller Lite. Postman and colleagues term this latter theme “the boys will be boys approach,” and suggest the narrative plays on the notion that beer dissolves the boundaries between men and boys, either because mastery of the drinking environment proves manhood, or because inebriation frees men from their adult roles and allows them to act childish. Aside from an ad featuring film star Madeline Kahn, women were for the most part either absent or used tangentially as proof of male prowess and desirability.

# (p. 288 ) Beer Advertising and the Changing Legal Drinking Environment

## Analysis Materials: 1950s and 1960s

National prohibition officially ended in 1933, but state and local governments reserved the right to control or prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. In 1946, 19.1% of the American population lived in “dry” areas, a figure that dropped to 12.7% by 1960 (Pennock, 2007). Beer advertising of the 1950s and 1960s embraced a strategy of “normalization” in order to combat lingering moral objections to drinking (Packard, 1957; Pennock, 2007). Beginning in the 1940s, the Brewers’ Federation launched the “Beer Belongs” ad campaign. Print ads celebrated beer as “America’s beverage of moderation,” as white couples, young and old, enjoyed beer in domestic settings. Some brands sustained the “beer belongs” theme in television advertising; ads for Budweiser and Miller High Life (“the champagne of bottled beer”) depicted beer served to white couples at suburban house parties and with meals at restaurants. The market was not yet dominated by a handful of national brands, and a proliferation of regional brewers, including Hamms in Minnesota, Piels in New York, and Stag in Cincinnati, produced commercials for airing on local stations. The technical standards and motifs of beer ads of the 1950s and 1960s varied widely, relying on a mix of animation and live action.

1950s/1960s

108

1970s

38

1980s

116

1990s

99

_____

___

2000s

222

Total

583

An enduring theme established during the 1950s and 1960s was that beer is a reward for accomplishment in leisure time activities. As a Pabst jingle put it, “Well done! Now, have a beer.” In a few ads, drinking marks the transition from paid work to leisure, but most of the “reward” ads focused on recreation or unpaid work. A number of ads broadcast during this period (p. 291 ) depicted beer drinking after (not during) sporting activities requiring a high level of skill and precision, such as golf, archery, or hunting. Red Cap ads of the early 1960s claimed its beer was “as satisfying as a good duck shoot.” Beer was offered as a reward for household chores, but it also accompanied temporary breaks. In a Hudepohl ad, a man becomes frustrated while fixing a table; he takes a break with a beer and the jingle explains, “when you’ve finished the job, or the job’s finished you, you deserve a glass of that golden brew.” An ad from the late 1960s depicts a young woman rewarding her two male friends with Olympia beer after they help move her things to a top-floor apartment; the camera pulls away to reveal that the sofa on which they are seated remains on a landing halfway up. Although beer is a reward, it is also treated as an incentive.

With respect to their ages, the men in beer commercials of the 1950s and early 1960s were generally middle aged. The “Ale Man” of the Ballantine ads was consistently craggy, as were the men depicted drinking beer alone with sandwiches, in front of televisions, with their wives in taverns or restaurants, or after sports. In an ad for Drewry’s, beer is explicitly linked with adult status. Over a scene of two men and two women talking, eating, smoking, and drinking, the narrator states, “These are the people we make Drewry’s beer for. Adults. With a taste that’s about a million miles away from soda pop. … Kind of nice to be an adult, isn’t it?” In the world depicted in beer commercials of the era, children and senior citizens do not exist. Parties, barbecues, and restaurants are populated entirely by obviously adult couples, and beer is enjoyed in the context of food and meals as well as by itself. The late-1960s Olympia ad, however, gestured toward a younger market. The men are described as “friends,” and it is clear that the young woman is moving into her own apartment. Although the characters are younger, the narrative remains consistent with other ads of the period. Effort expended during leisure time activities is followed by relaxation as beer is handed from friend to friend.

## The 1970s: Miller Time

In July 1971, the 26th Amendment established national suffrage at age 18. Forty-five states lowered their voting age, and twenty-nine states lowered their minimum legal drinking age as well (Wechsler & Sands, 1980). By 1979, less than a third of the United States population lived in states with a legal drinking age of 21 for all alcoholic beverages; almost half of the U.S. population lived in states where teens legally purchased beer at age 18 (Wechsler & Sands, 1980). Although the early 1970s saw the expansion of a legal adolescent market for beer, the commercials broadcast during that (p. 292 ) decade do not suggest that advertisers focused heavily on youth. While some ads were populated by apparently younger people, and social groups were no longer tightly organized as sets of heterosexual couples, the narratives of the ads did not diverge from earlier decades, nor did ads featuring young people use different narratives from ads featuring seemingly older people.

Men were often the focus of beer ads of the 1960s, but women were also depicted as beer drinkers, albeit with the suggestion that beer was ultimately a man’s drink. For example, the Piels “Honest Beer—Brewed for Men” ads included a woman stating that she, too, liked a beer that was “brewed for men.” On the face of it, the 1970s hypermasculine “Miller Time” commercials (and Anheuser-Busch’s similar “This Bud’s for You” campaign) demonstrate a shift of focus away from leisure and onto the male world of paid work. An archetypal “Miller Time” ad from 1976 features construction workers enduring a long and dangerous day on a skyscraper “with nothing to hold on to but the wind and a cold steel beam.” After work, they bond and socialize in a warmly lit tavern. Blue collar men working together and drinking together represented a variation on the “beer as reward” theme of prior decades. During this period, the Lite Beer from Miller ads gently lampooned the masculine world of work by featuring retired sports heroes spending their time arguing about beer and, in one 1976 ad featuring football star Rosey Grier, learning needlepoint.

The ads of the 1950s and early 1960s depicted the sociable transfer of beer from one individual to another. Through the 1970s, beer also served as (p. 293 ) an emblem of inclusion of an individual into a larger group. A 1975 Schlitz ad featured off-duty firemen playing competitive games at a sunny outdoor picnic; a narrator explains that firemen fight fires at work, but at play they fight each other. However, the “fight” is clearly in fun and after the contest a keg is tapped and pitchers of beer are passed through the crowd. At one point, the camera focuses on a young woman spectator holding a toddler on her hip. The inclusion of the woman and her child normalizes beer drinking as part of wholesome family fun, and the passing of beer from hand to hand symbolizes group togetherness.

Not all of the ads from this period depict groups in work and sports. For example, Löwenbräu ads aimed at a more upscale market (“Here’s to good friends, tonight is kinda special”) echoed the 1960s theme of adult couples enjoying leisure time together. Two commercials in the series depict several couples in a vacation setting—one takes place on the ski slopes (1979), the other on a beach (1981). In each, the group realizes that one of their friends is missing. They worry briefly, but are relieved and pleasantly surprised when the friend reappears, offering Löwenbräu. They are happy to have the beer, but they are more relieved to have found their friend; in the 1979 ad, as they sit by the fire enjoying beer, one man confesses, “For a minute there, you really had us worried.” His friend replies sincerely, “I know. Thanks.” The commercial goes out of its way to avoid implying that the beer is the reason the couples are happy to see their friend. Sharing a beer means group membership, but beer is not the price of admission to the group.

During the 1970s, brewing was an increasingly successful and lucrative industry. As the demographic bulge of the baby boom came of age and the mini mum legal drinking age dropped, each year of the 1970s saw an (p. 294 ) increase in per-capita beer consumption (see Figure 10.2). From today’s perspective, we might expect to see advertisers change their advertising techniques in order to appeal to an emerging teen market for beer in the 1970s. However, aside from the fact that animation was no longer used, the characters and themes depicted in television commercials of the 1970s did not represent a distinct departure from the ads of the 1950s and 1960s. Two possible factors explain the relative stasis in beer advertising themes: first, in the 1970s, television broadcasting was dominated by the “big three” television networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC. Advertising appealed to a general audience of all ages, for whom youth culture was recognizable but not necessarily relevant. Until the proliferation of cable stations and the increased sensitivity of ratings measures, a narrow focus on certain demographic groups did not typify advertising (Turow, 1997). A second explanation for the lack of distinctly youth-oriented narratives in advertising of the 1970s is the fact that the industry was doing well, with production and sales increasing yearly. Although this statement is certainly debatable, we would suggest that heavy advertising was not a priority: beer was a product that sold itself. In the next decade, the regulatory environment for alcoholic beverages tightened signi ficantly, and the brewing industry’s boom years came to an end (Figure 10.2).

## The 1980s: Beer as Achievement

Figure 10.2. Annual per-capita consumption of beer, wine, and spirits from 1950 to 2004. Estimates based on ages 15+ prior to 1970; 14+ thereafter. (Source: Adapted with permission from “Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System,” by T. M. Nephew, H. Yi, G. D. Williams, F. S. Stinson, and M. C. Dufour, U.S. Alcohol Epidemiologic Data Reference Manual, Vol. 1, 4th ed., U.S. Apparent Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages Based on State Sales, Taxation, or Receipt Data. Washington, DC: NIAAA. NIH Publication No. 04-5563 [June 2004]).

During the 1960s and 1970s, beer marked the boundary between work and leisure. During the mid-1980s, as part of their “This Bud’s for You” campaign, Budweiser ads began to address the boundary between inexperience and adulthood. Postman et al. (1987) analyzed an ad in which a young construction worker struggles to prove himself on the job; at the end of the day he is validated as a peer of the more experienced workers when the foreman gives him a beer. Several other Budweiser ads employed this narrative during the mid-1980s: in one, a young man takes over his father’s silk-screening business; the customers are skeptical but the young man does well, and his success is affirmed when his father gives him a beer. In another, a young saxophone player goes from audition to audition. He finally lands a gig at a nightclub, and the bar owner rewards him with a mug of beer. These ads resonate with the “job-well-done” theme of the “Miller Time” approach but with the additional narrative element of beer symbolizing the initiation of a novice into the adult world of work.

(p. 297 ) This shift in the presentation of beer as a reward is significant in light of another development in beer commercial narratives. During the latter half of the 1980s, satirical ads began suggesting that obtaining beer was not just a reward, it was an accomplishment in itself. In 1985, Anheuser-Busch launched the “Gimme a Light” series. Bar patrons requested “a Light,” were handed something flammable, then specified “Bud Light” in order to get a beer. Postman et al. (1987) characterized Bud Light’s general approach as “upscale initiation,” and noted the emphasis on bar etiquette—one must know how to order properly. A 1987 Super Bowl spot for Bud Light, “Thomas Edison,” continues the “Gimme a Light” narrative while echoing the initiation theme of “This Bud’s for You.” Edison presents his new invention, the electric lamp, to an older man and seeks his approval. The older man sighs, “That’s very nice, Thomas, but I wanted a Bud Light.” Thomas had apparently misinterpreted the old man’s request for “a Light,” as in earlier “Gimme a Light” ads, but the ad also parodies the themes of accomplishment, reward, and initiation of the “This Bud’s for You” series. In short, the premier American inventor is told that beer is more desirable than the electric light. Behind the humorous exaggeration of Thomas’s failure is an exaggeration of the importance of beer. For adolescent drinkers in the late 1980s, providing beer had become an achievement that peers would appreciate. This theme would inform several ad campaigns over the next two decades.

## 1990s: Risk, Achievement, and Parody

A satirical notion that beer is more important than other basic needs played itself out in a variety of contexts through the late 1990s. The point subtly made in the 1986 comet watchers ad is brought more clearly into focus in the 1990s: obtaining beer is difficult, but is worth the sacrifices one might make to get it. A 1998 Coors ad features two young men driving in a hot dusty desert. At the gas station they face a dilemma; they have only a few dollars and must choose between gas and beer. The ad ends with the two pushing their jeep through the desert, carrying a six-pack of Coors. In 1999 ads, young men at the grocer’s checkout choose Bud Light over toilet paper, a coach trades his star player for a case of Michelob Light, and an elderly man chooses Miller Lite over romance with an elderly woman. A certain amount of physical risk may be necessary to obtain beer. In a 1997 ad, the McKenzie Brothers, a pair of Canadian comics, leap from a plane in pursuit of a falling bottle of Molson Ice. In another 1997 ad, a caveman is struck by falling Budweiser beer bottles; excited by his discovery, he continues to eagerly watch the sky and is knocked unconscious by a falling keg.

Getting beer may also require ingenuity: For example, a young man trains a mouse to scare a pretty girl (and her six-pack of Bud Light) into the safety of his apartment in 1999. Once obtained, beer is protected and cherished. In a 1998 Heineken ad, a man patiently waits for the very last drop of beer to fall from bottle to glass as romantic lyrics profess, “My devotion (p. 300 ) is deep as the ocean.” Another Heineken ad, “Mood Swing,” turns a sports fan’s elation at a touchdown to abject sorrow when he accidentally spills his beer. Because of its value, beer must be protected: in a 1998 ad, a young man installs a false front in his fridge in order to hide Bud Light from his roommate. A 1999 Rolling Rock ad features a man explaining why he will not share his beer. Finally, because beer is so precious, other people’s desire for beer can be used to one’s advantage. A salesman sells a client a fake photocopier because it seems to turn one beer into many (an assistant is revealed pushing Bud Light through the slot). A lobster escapes a pot by holding a bottle of beer hostage against attacks by kitchen staff (“He’s got a Budweiser!”). A scrappy dog wins Best in Show when the judge sees a twelve-pack in his kennel.

In the 1990s, humans were not the only creatures willing to go to great lengths to obtain beer. In ads for a number of Anheuser-Busch products, animals conspire to steal it from humans. In a 1995 ad, a couple drives through a safari game preserve. Chimps jump on the vehicle; the people are distracted by their antics while a second team of chimps steals Bud Light from the back of the jeep. In 1996, a series of horror movie spoofs featured penguins attempting to frighten people away from their Bud Ice. In another 1996 ad, vultures snatch the last Bud Light from a man lost in the desert. The man mumbles, “They’ll never get it open,” but the final shot reveals the bird’s beak holding the bottle cap. Humans take risks and make sacrifices to get beer, and so do animals. In 1997, a chicken “crosses the road” to get to a bar, and an absurdist ad set in a power plant reveals that the entire city’s power is generated from a hamster running on an exercise wheel, lured by the sight of a bottle of Budweiser. Miller employed beer-seeking animals in two ads from the 1998 “Dick” series. One features an “Evil Beaver” terrorizing settlers and stealing their beer. The other depicts a steer informing a rancher of an upcoming stampede in exchange for payment in cases of Miller Lite. Aliens from outer space also enjoy beer: In a 1997 ad, a spaceship beams up an entire Budweiser delivery truck. Several years later, aliens would use bottles of beer as “bait” for catching humans.

## 2000s: Kill Your Good Friends

Another set of ads from the first half of this decade features individuals making extra efforts and sacrifices to get access to beer. In a 2005 Heineken ad, superheroes mock a regular-guy aspirant. He then demonstrates his “special power,” and his ability to transform everyday objects into bottles of beer wins him instant acceptance in the group. People will go to particular lengths to get Bud Light: in one ad, men use tools to cut a hole through their own apartment wall to gain access to the Bud Light in a neighbor’s refrigerator. In another, a man thrusts his hand holding a six-pack into a closing elevator door to hold it; the people in the elevator keep him trapped and mercilessly take his beer. A worker hides bottles of beer around the workplace to “raise morale”; employees ransack and destroy their offices to find it. Men climb on top of their houses, on the pretense of fixing the roof, in order to drink beer. In a 2006 Miller ad, a man rigs his television with an extremely long extension cord so that he can walk all the way to the store for more beer without missing any of the game. Animals can also help procure beer. In a 2002 Bud Light ad, a falcon swoops down from his master’s high-rise apartment to snatch beers from tables in sidewalk cafes. In 2004 a scruffy dog bites his owner’s rival, forcing him to give up his beer.

The sacrifices made for the sake of beer characterize a number of advertising narratives. A person might sacrifice safety to get access to beer. A 2007 ad depicts a young man stopping his car to pick up a hitchhiker. “But he has an axe!” protests his horrified girlfriend. “But he has Bud Light!” argues the young man. Beer lovers will sacrifice their dignity; dressed in ridiculous disco outfits, two young men attend “70s Night” because of the free beer; on arrival they learn that it’s actually a night for people in their seventies, but they stay anyway, because of the beer. In a 2006 ad, a young man kneeling to retrieve his fallen beer from under the sofa is mounted by his dog just as his mother-in-law walks into the room. In 2004, Cedric the Entertainer accidentally strays into the bikini wax room when he is distracted by a fridge full of Bud Light at a spa. Finally, in the quest for beer, one might also sacrifice friends: In a 2007 ad for Bud Light, two young men agree to compete for the last beer using the childhood game “rock, paper, scissors;” one throws a real rock at his rival’s head and steps over the fallen body to take the last beer.

Within the “beer is precious” narrative, jokes about the relative importance of beer and women are common. A 2006 Coors ad introducing the new cooler box depicts young men at a wedding who bring their own beer; they need ice, so they chop the head off an ice sculpture of the bride. A 2004 Sam Adams ad depicts a young man at a house party invited into a bedroom by a pretty young woman; partygoers raise eyebrows at the excited (p. 304 ) whooping that ensues, but the real source of the young man’s ecstasy is a Sam Adams Light. In a 2006 Bud Light ad, a young man brings a date on a romantic sleigh ride at night; he leans down to get beer from the cooler and the horse’s attack of gas turns a candle into a blowtorch and scorches the woman. In contrast to the narrative of the comet watchers, in which retrieving a beer caused hardship, getting the beer saves the young man from a fiery fart. In another Bud Light ad, a man is not interested in his female partner in her black teddy, but when she offers him a Bud Light, he lunges into the bedroom and slips on the satin sheets. He loses his dignity and compromises his safety but at least he gets the beer. According to Messner and de Oca (2005), these ads play on the notion that women may bring disappointment, but beer always satisfies.

From these descriptions, it would seem that ads following the “beer is precious” narrative would violate the Beer Institute’s code of advertising standards, with its admonitions against portraying illegal and risky activities. However, the code allows “strategic ambiguity” (Zwarun & Farrar, 2005), creating opportunities for suggestion rather than assertion. Item 2(d) in the Beer Institute’s list of guidelines states, “Beer advertising and marketing materials should not portray or imply illegal activity of any kind by an individual prior to, during, or after the individual consumes, purchases, or is served beer, unless the portrayal or implication of illegal activity is a basic element or feature of a parody or spoof and is readily identifiable as such” (2006, p. 2, emphasis added). Depicting hoarding also violates the code, but the presence of parody redeems it. Comedy and the use of animals as protagonists allow advertisers to push the envelope on the question of what constitutes the portrayal or implication of risky or illegal activity. Everyone knows that vultures and monkeys don’t really drink beer, and that young men’s efforts to “protect” their beer in TV commercials are ridiculously over the top. Our point is not necessarily that the beer industry is promoting theft. Rather, we would argue that all of the ads discussed in this section resonate with the notion that beer is a valuable and limited substance, and that one must be willing to take risks and, sometimes, break the law to get it. Getting (or keeping) the beer is the dominant plotline of these ads, just as overcoming legal barriers to beer is a typical challenge for teenage drinkers.

# Conclusion: Overcoming Barriers to Beer

Looking back fifty years, the most noteworthy change in the content of alcohol advertising is the depiction of beer as a precious, valuable, and rare substance for which one should be willing to commit any number of outrageous (p. 305 ) acts. Although this theme appears in comic or farcical contexts, the fact that it is almost completely absent from advertising prior to 1985 links the trend with attempts to curb teen risk behaviors over the course of the 1980s. The movement to limit the social costs of alcohol abuse began with organized anti–drunk driving campaigns of the late 1970s and culminated with the 1984 federal highway funding legislation. Coupled with increased enforcement of minimum purchase age laws through sting operations and the institution of civil liability suits (dram shop laws), these efforts were successful in creating a substantial set of barriers to underage drinking. Setting aside the question of whether these events measurably affected the societal costs of adolescent and problem drinking, the fact remains that, generally speaking, in the mid-1970s adolescents experienced far fewer legal and social barriers to obtaining beer than those of the same age group would come to know by 1990. The culture of drinking changed, and the cultural narratives of alcohol advertising changed as well.

Figure 10.3. Trends in past thirty-day use of alcohol from 1975 to 2006 among eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students. (Source: Monitoring the Future Survey, the University of Michigan, available at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org) Data not collected for eighth and tenth graders until 1991.

## Policy Implications

Does alcohol advertising influence underage drinking? Although research suggests a relationship between exposure to advertising and underage drinking, the difficulty of proving causality in a complex media environment hampers the ability of researchers to reach definitive conclusions (Hastings, Anderson, Cooke, & Gordon, 2005). However, given the heavy exposure to alcohol advertising in the media, it is likely that youth are at least prompted to try alcoholic beverages, and the rapid rise in popularity of alcopops, especially in adolescent girls, strongly suggests that awareness of these products has been aided by advertising. Aside from these direct effects on youth, advertising practices play a role in shaping the larger cultural context for alcohol use and abuse (Gerbner, 1995), and further research into the relationship between advertising and problem drinking is needed to assess the potentially harmful effects of youth overexposure to alcohol advertising.

In response to accusations that they target youth, the alcohol industry argues that it would make bad business sense to pitch product to audiences who can’t legally purchase it (Rich, 1997; “TV beer ads defended,” 1956). In turn, media scholars and advertising practitioners argue that youth are valuable targets for building brand loyalty for many products (La Ferle, et al., 2001; Wright-Isak, Faber, & Horner, 1997; Zollo, 1999). Although Beer Institute marketing guidelines prohibit advertising on programs for whom young viewers exceed 30% of the total viewing audience, research has shown that, compared to viewers over age 21, youth are disproportionately exposed (that is, overexposed) to television (Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, 2006) and radio alcohol advertising (Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, 2007b). Research has suggested that a limit of 15% would more accurately reflect the proportion of children aged 12 to 20 in the population (Jernigan, Ostroff, & Ross, 2006).

# Notes

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