Alcohol brands are innovators in the use of social media and they are using it to target young people. However, Denita Wawn, the chairwoman of the Alcohol Beverage Advertising Code (ABAC), said last week in an ABC Online article that she receives ‘very few complaints about alcohol advertisements on social media’. Given the ABAC review later this year; this is the time to express your views about alcohol brands forming relationships with your children online.
It’s really no surprise that the ABAC has received few comments on this topic. Social media allows brands to target young people in a host of ways that go unnoticed by regulators and many adults including parents.
Social media platforms like Facebook allow alcohol companies to collect data to help them target audiences better. This means that a man on Facebook may engage with an alcohol brand around its sponsorship of motor racing while his daughter may engage with the same brand around its sponsorship of a music festival.
One example of how alcohol brands leverage their sponsorship of a music festival is sending a photographer to take pictures of people at the event. The photos are then posted on the alcohol brand’s Facebook page and the people in the photos will tag themselves and share them with their friends. This allows the alcohol company to collect more data on the young person and continue to target them with things like competitions and discussions around appealing cultural topics. This two-way dialogue is much more intimate and effective than traditional advertising through TV, radio and billboards.
As alcohol marketing becomes more targeted it is hard for anyone to know, or measure, how much alcohol promotion young people are receiving. Young people under 18 years are inveterate social media users – 13 is the age at which people can set up a Facebook account – then all bets are off. This makes it increasingly important for parents to talk with their children about the sort of brands they are engaging with through social media and giving them some guidance on how to think about these messages.
If you would like to let the ABAC know your thoughts on how the code should be reviewed you can contact them through their website.
Post a comment below to let other parents know your thoughts about alcohol brands targeting your children.