For every prevention message from health agencies and or governments there are 25-50 beer and wine advertisements (1) to contradict the message.
By the time someone turns 18 they will have, on average, seen around 36,000 alcohol advertisements on TV (2) not to mention the additional number in outdoor advertising, magazines, newspapers plus the internet. Alcohol advertising is also pervasive in movies and music.
A study conducted in 1999 illustrated that 98% of movies and 27% of songs had depictions of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs (3). Another study in 2012 also found that the most popular songs in the youth market between 2005 and 2007 around 25% of the songs not only mentioned alcohol but also the brand name (4).
Celebrity endorsement also contributes to our attitude about alcohol, from those who’s ‘bad behaviour ‘makes them front page news to those who are paid to push a product: “The endorsement by a celebrity really gives consumers the feeling that they can partake in the kind of lifestyle they assume these celebrities are living,” said Michael Stone, CEO of licensing agency Beanstalk”. (5)
A number of studies over the years have highlighted the relationship between children’s viewing of alcohol advertisements and positive attitudes to alcohol. Our children are not immune. The ubiquitous nature and commercialisation of alcohol and other products can be challenging to parents, reinforcing the important role of parents in reducing the amount of advertising children encounter, but more importantly countering the advertising that children do view.
A study in the Journal of Paediatrics explored the relationship between fast food advertisements, parental influence and food choices. The study revealed that if parents remained neutral after unhealthy choices were viewed, then the child chose that option; however, this number dropped to 55% when parents steered the child to a healthier option.
Setting behavioural expectations around alcohol and discussing the harmful effects alcohol can have on the developing brain helps to counter those positive images seen in advertisements. Studies have shown that parenting skills and behaviours have the most direct impact on young peoples’ behaviour (6) (7) (8); and children drink less when their parents disapprove and also reduce their access to alcohol.
Written by Julie Rae
1. Strasberger, V.C. Adolescents and the media: medical and psychological impact. California, USA : Thousand Oaks, 1995.
2. Strasburger, V.C. Children, adolescents, and the media. Current Problems Pediatric Adolescent Health Care. 2004, Vol. 34, pp. 54-113.
3. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (U.S.). Substance use in popular movies and music. s.l. : Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (U.S.), 1999.
4. Dobson, Corrine. Alcohol marketing and young people: time for a new policy agenda. Canberra, ACT : American Medical Association, 2012.
5. Kell, John. 9 celebrities making money off your liquor shelf. Fortune. [Online] 2015. http://fortune.com/2015/01/08/celebrities-alcohol-brands/.
6. Familial influences on substance abuse by adolecents and young adults. . Boyle, M, et al. 2001, CanadianJournal of Public Health, pp. 206-209.
7. MIddle childhood antecedents to progressions in male adolecent substance use: an exological anaylsis of risk and protection. Dishion, T, Capaldi, D and Yoerger, K. 1999, Journal of Adolescent Research , pp. 175-205.
8. Parental and peers influences on the onset of heavier drinking among adolescents. . Reifman, A, et al. 1998, Journal of studies on Alcohol, pp. 311-317.