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Alcohol Ads Appeal to Teens Online, Expert Says

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Teens are likely being exposed to a lot of alcohol advertising online, says the Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. David Jernigan says alcohol companies’ voluntary limits on print, television and radio ads are often ignored on social media websites.

Jernigan, who conducted a recent review of alcohol ads and social media, cites examples such as a beer bottle that was lit up like a Christmas tree on one Facebook page, and accompanied by stuffed animals in another. He also points to the video on YouTube that featured cartoon characters using alcohol to reduce stress.

“We tried to get a sense of everything the companies are doing on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and iPhone apps and it’s amazing how much they’re doing,” Jernigan told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s far more than I think most parents or adults are aware of. It’s the wild west without a sheriff.”

The Distilled Spirits Council has issued social media marketing guidelines that include “age-gating” before direct dialogue between advertisers and consumers, and visible instructions urging individuals to forward downloadable digital content only to adults 21 and older. In a statement, the group said, “Social networking sites are used primarily by adults, which makes these platforms responsible and appropriate channels for spirits marketers.”

Jernigan notes it is not possible to determine how many teens are seeing, or responding to, the alcohol marketing. But since an estimated 22 percent of Facebook users are ages 13 to 20, he concludes, “it’s probably a lot.”

He called for tighter controls on content, more parental involvement and better technology to limit underage access.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of Jennifer Watkins
    Jennifer Watkins / May 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    If you really want to havee an impact on the kids of this generation, you have to find a way to make them scared and make it uncool. The puppet ads were close, but you need to take it to another level, make it more real. Get stories of kids who died that look like your average middle class american kid who died show their pics and videos of them. Show real videos of popular kids who died, and popular kids who choose to be cooler and live above the influence. Popular kids who truely make fun of or think kids who do drugs are stupid. The key is real video in real high schools. This is the era of reality T.V. that is what the kids of today relate to. It would be nice to live above the influence but the only people that reach are people who are already smart enough to know better. Everyone else lives in the world of peer pressure and trying to fit in and be cool.

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