We all see these alcohol advertisements that run on TV, they tend to be funny like the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” commercials or the Miller Light commercial with Ken Jeong.
The reason these commercials are funny is because the company wants us, as consumers, to remember the product. Companies also want to put their marketing messages out in front of as many people as possible and this is why so many beer advertisers run commercials during the Super Bowl; because it is the most watched TV event. But funny ads also appeal to kids and kids are often watching the most popular sporting events, so the question is, are these advertisements affecting out youth?
Now these advertisements are not targeted toward our youth, they are intended for a target audience who is over the age of 21, which is the legal age to drink. These advertisements though have more effect on our youth than one might think. It was shown in a study that a great amount of exposure to alcohol product advertisements contributed to an increase in the number of underage drinkers. When underage drinkers saw more than 1 ad, they were more likely to have a drink.
You might look back and think to when you were in high school and say, “I can remember having a couple of drinks with my friends.” But did you ever drink when you were in middle school? Did you ever know someone who drank when they were in eighth grade? A study that surveyed 2,225 seventh grade students found that kids who viewed an ad for alcohol were then more likely to consume beer, wine, or liquor, or to drink 3 or more drinks in one sitting once they reached the eighth grade. You might say that these kids are drinking because they see someone they look up to drinking or maybe their parents. But USA Today published a report on a survey that asked teens how much alcohol advertising had on them and teens responded that it increased their desire and also influences which brand they wanted to buy.
So much money is spent on alcohol advertising. To be exact, in 2005, 2 billion dollars was spent on alcohol product advertising on various types of media outlets. It was found that exposure of these kinds of advertisements to youth increased by 41 percent in 2005. One can easily imagine that number has increased even further since 2005. Actually, in 2003 you would be more likely to see an advertisement promoting the consumption of alcohol than an advertisement trying to prevent it. But what is really surprising is that when we reach the legal age for drinking, we actually see more advertisements to prevent drinking, weird right?
Even though we all think alcohol product commercials are funny, we need to be aware that they have more effect on our youth than we think. TV stations and networks should be thinking about these effects and should monitor more carefully the amount of exposure to underage audiences.