Alcohol Advertising-Under Age Drinking

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In researching my report on alcohol advertising, I came across underage drinking and what influences someone under the age of 21 to drink. I today’s society, I don’t believe that the under 21 age group is influenced by alcohol advertisements, such as television and magazines, but more so by their peers as well as how they are raised by their parent(s) as well as how much time the parent(s) spend with their children.
After one graduates from high school it usually means that the person will go off to college and the perception being that there will be a lot of parties, drinking and just being away from the parent(s). At college, in order to fit in and become part of a fraternity, the person has to through a hazing process which has been part of college life for years and proving to your “brothers or sisters” how much alcohol you can handle in order to be accepted. There has been a lot of repercussions relating to hazing which has caused many young adults to die from this initiation process. Today, many colleges have banned alcohol hazing and put policies in place should one be caught drinking and that individual(s) would have to pay the repercussions, such as being dismissed from the college permanently. Parents know what it’s like going to college and what happens when their child/children are there and hopefully the parents have enough trust and confidence in their child/children that they will take the appropriate actions when it comes to drinking and also the child/children should know what the consequences will be if they are participating in any type campus drinking. A parent can’t always be around their child/children 24/7.
One website I found was Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), www.madd.org. I found this website very informative and had a lot of interesting topics and stories as to what MADD is all about. MADD was started by Candy Lightner in 1980 along with other women from California when a “drunk driver who was a repeat-offender killed a teenage girl”. MADD is a non-profit organization, is known nationally and has agencies all over the United States. The MADD Website has many articles on underage drinking including an article on college drinking. A national poll was done with college-age individuals and found that 70% favor 21 as the minimum age to sell or serve alcohol and 65% want strongly to have rules enforced (The Robert wood Johnson Foundation).

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Also, the MADD Website provided several links to go to for many different articles from a story of a young adult who was in a car accident where he was driving drunk to survey’s on teenage drinking and college drinking which showed some interesting results.
I found an article that ABC News (www.abcnews.com) did on how magazines boost the amount of readers they get bey advertising beer and/or liquor products to young readers of which a study was conducted. The articles report was from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The report indicated that as young adults read magazines, that the number of alcohol advertisements rise too. The report included the magazines that young adults read are: Seventeen, Glamour, Vogue, and Sports Illustrated just to name a few and that these same magazines now sell Teen Seventeen, Teen Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Teen People. The report mentioned that companies need to restrict their advertisements to venues where the audience is over 21 years of age.
There is another ABC News article called “Half of High School Seniors Are Drinking” and that a survey was done in 2002 that found that 20 percent of the nations eighth graders said that they had a drink and the number rose to 35 percent for tenth graders, and 50 percent for twelfth graders. This I found very interesting. Another good sources of information relating to under age drinking is The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) (www.camy.org). The CAMY Website shows several fact sheets on under age drinking. They have a lot of information from articles to studies. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) also has a lot of information relating to under age drinking.
I believe that the under 21-age group is influenced mostly by their peers as well as how the persons home life is. If the person wants to “fit in” then he/she is talked into participating in some sort of alcohol activity or they are dared and by taking this challenge the other members of the group are impressed by how the person did, then he/she becomes a member of the group. There is a lot of peer pressure out there for someone to belong to a group and to “fit in”. I also believe that a home life of a person plays a part in the security of how a person feels. Divorce is another situation that might cause a teenager to drink because he/she is then caught in the middle of his/her parents divorce and might be asked to take sides and by drinking, this would make him/her forget about the problem at hand. Also, if he/she is in an abusive situation, this might also cause him/her to drink. This could relieve the pain he/she is feeling and shut out was has happened. Or one or both parents are drinkers and this would be another way for an individual to start drinking. No matter what type of situation there is, the “feeling good” only lasts for awhile and reality sets in and then it starts all over again
I personally don’t believe that there are advertisements targeting the under 21-age group but it could depend on how the layout of the advertisement is designed and what type of people are in the picture and how they are representing the type of alcoholic beverage for that advertisement. I remember seeing a billboard advertising Black Velvet Whiskey and showed a blonde haired woman in a black velvet dress. To me this indicated that the black velvet dress is soft, smooth and warm, implying that the Black Velvet Whiskey is soft, goes down smooth and will make you warm. This sign isn’t around anymore.
There were two magazines that I was looking through “Glamour and Self” (a fitness magazine). In the Glamour magazine I found an article that was very interesting, it mentioned that drinks today are twice the size then they were in 1970. A few examples are: “Martini in 1970 was 3 ounces and 206 calories and in 2003 was 7 ounces and 480 calories. A draft beer in 1970 was 12 ounces and 118 calories and in 2003 was 20 ounces and 196 calories, a Margarita in 1970 was 4 ounces and 227 calories and in 2003 was 14 ounces and 794 calories, and finally, wine in 1970 was 6 ounces and 127 calories and in 2003 was 10 ounces and 212 calories. After reading this article, I never really noticed that the size of drinks have changed. It seems that by increasing the size of the drinks that bars/restaurants serve, the drink will cost more and could make an individual become intoxicated a lot quicker or it could help in decreasing the amount of drinks an individual will have.
Another advertisement I saw was for a malt whiskey called “Sylk”. The picture showed a neck of a woman wearing a pearl necklace along with other types of necklaces which I believe is depicting how smooth and soft silk is and that any woman would who likes the feel of silk will enjoy this new “Sylk” malt whiskey. Another advertisement I saw was for Godiva Liqueur and showed a well dressed man and woman (possibly thirty something), he is sitting at the piano and she has her hands around him and laughing. If you like chocolate, then you will like the taste of Godiva Liqueur which has the flavor of chocolate. The bottom of the ad states, “Enjoy our quality responsibly”.
Another advertisement I saw was in the Self magazine which showed a brand of wine called “Remyred’. At the top of the page it reads “fashion (in red) statement”. The picture displays a womans red sandal, a compact, bangle bracelet and a glass filled with the wine (which also comes in Strawberry, Lime, and Mint Leaves). I believe that this is showing that this is woman’s drink especially during the hot summer months which will cool you down. In the advertisements that I mentioned, the advertising company has a theme for a particular drink in order for a liquor company to sell its product especially if it is a new one, in order to make the consumer purchase that brand of liquor.
In looking at beer and/or liquor websites, I found that you cannot access the company’s website without entering your date of birth, the country you live in or acknowledging you are of legal age. It does show that liquor/beer companies have taken steps to control and monitor who goes into their website as well as putting statements on their websites that in form say drink responsibly.
There are now guidelines and regulations that alcohol/beer/liquor companies have to follow and if they did produce an advertisement for teenage drinking, the particular company would be sued or held liable if something did happen to a teenager and that teenager could say that he/she was influenced by a particular advertisement they saw in a certain magazine. There are magazines out there that the under 21 age group read that have some type of advertisements relating to some kind of liquor or beer. You can’t stop a person from reading any type of magazine.
There are reports that indicate that alcohol/beer advertisement are not targeting under age drinkers. The magazines that I have mentioned here have properly displayed advertisement and do have warnings about drinking responsibly and do not target under age drinkers. Two commercials I remember seeing during the Super Bowl half time are the Bud Bowls and the Budweiser frogs which targeted many age groups who watch the Super Bow. This is high light of football season and there are parties where a lot of people get together and alcohol/beer is served and possibly there is someone under the age of 21 who would be drinking.
There are many Websites out there that have a lot of information on liquor/beer advertisements, under age drinking as well as many reports, articles, and statistics on drinking. I believe that the liquor/beer companies are carful on how they advertise their products and do provide warnings on each of their labels as well as in the many magazines that provide alcohol advertisements. In today’s society, parents need to take a more active role in what their children are doing, where they are going, and who they are hanging out with. Not enough can be said about this. I believe that there will always be debates on alcohol advertising and whether or not the advertisements are targeting the under 21-age group.



















Works Cited
Federal Trade Commission. 1999.
     


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