Alcohol and Advertising Essay
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“Alcohol is not often thought of as a drug – largely because its use is common for both religious and social purposes in most parts of the world. It is a drug, however, and compulsive drinking in excess has become one of modern society’s most serious problems” (ARF). This is so true because many people don’t consider alcohol a drug but the effects it has on you are so serious that it should be. “The effects of drinking do not depend on the type of alcoholic beverage – but rather on the amount of alcohol consumed on a specific occasion” (ARF).
To give you a background on alcohol, here is a quick refresher on how it works and the effects it has on your body. “Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine, and less rapidly from the stomach and colon. The drinker’s blood alcohol concentration depends on the amount consumed in a given time, the drinker’s size, sex, body build, and metabolism, and the type and amount of food in the stomach” (ARF).
The effects of alcohol are very frightening to even consider.
They depend on “the amount taken at one time, the user’s past drug experience, the manner in which the drug is taken and the circumstances under which the drug is taken” (ARF). At 50mg you experience mild intoxication which includes a “feeling of warmth, skin flushed; impaired judgment and decreased inhibitions” (ARF). From there you can go all the way down to 500mg which will more than likely cause death. It is an extremely scary thought to know that a substance that can cause death is freely advertised on television so that even our children can see it.
In fact, they are the targets of some manufacturers marketing. In this paper we will show you both sides of whether alcohol companies should be allowed to advertise on television or not and then give you our conclusion. No – Alcohol Advertising Should Not Be Allowed On Television Alcohol companies should not be allowed to advertise on television. In today’s society, more and more children are spending all of their free time in front of a television. They don’t go outside and play anymore, they just come home from school and flip on Jerry Springer or a soap opera.
Adults need to take the responsibility to protect children from undue influences as much as they can. Banning alcohol advertisements would be a simple way to help this process. In a recent study done by the Center for Media Education (CME), they found that many alcohol companies actually target youth even though it is illegal for them to drink. Companies use such things as “cartoons, personalities, language, music, or branded merchandise popular in youth culture or which would be particularly attractive to college or high-school-aged students” (CME).
This shows a blatant attempt on their part to recruit new consumers who are underage. There have been previous attempts to stop alcohol companies from targeting youth such as the Voluntary Alcohol Advertising Standards for Children Act, but that is just the thing, it is voluntary. This is a try at making themselves look responsible but they still really aren’t. This Act pressures broadcasters to simply not run alcohol advertisements. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the broadcasters to filter what goes on the air.
Alcohol companies should not waste their money making these ads to begin with. Instead, they need to target a more mature audience who have the right to consume their products. The beer and liquor companies claim they don’t target youth but how can that be when you see the “Budweiser frogs or the Coors’ “Tap the Rockies” campaigns or Seagram’s dogs and Hiram Walker’s Kahlua Mudslide” (Hacker). Many of these companies have, in the past, even advertised on the youth-oriented MTV. Anheuser-Busch just recently pulled their ads off MTV.
“Why did it take 10 years since “age-21” became the law of the land for the world’s largest brewer to stop competing for attention on MTV with ads for pimple control products and sports equipment” (Hacker)? “Indeed the evidence is that even young children are aware of alcohol advertisements and tend to remember them. Manufacturers further reduce the chances of young people failing to get the message by sponsorship of sports teams and events and music concerts having particular appeal to the young” (IAS).
“Today, kids are bombarded by more than $700 million in beer, wine, and liquor ads on radio and television. Those ads encourage them to drink, and they bolster unacceptable levels of alcohol consumption among young people and the problems that go with it” (Hacker). When considering the Budweiser frogs, “a recent study by the San Francisco-based Center on Alcohol Advertising tested commercial and character recall among 9-11 year olds.
The results: the children demonstrated higher recall (73%) of the Budweiser frogs’ slogan than of the slogans associated with other television animal characters, including Tony the Tiger (57%), Smokey the Bear (43%), and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (39%). Only Bugs Bunny did slightly better, at 80% recall of “Eh, what’s up doc? ” Overall, 81% of the children surveyed identified beer as the product promoted by the frogs” (Hacker). This is a scary revelation, that our children know more about beer ads than the cartoon characters who promote good products.
There are too many people who are hurting themselves and others as a result of alcohol abuse. In the past, there have been studies done that find there is nothing wrong with alcohol companies advertising on TV, but a study done by the Marin Institute found differently. “’Until now, most of the studies done on the subject conclude that alcohol advertising doesn’t affect drinking behavior,’ says Henry Saffer, research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, ‘The alcohol industry uses these studies to bolster its argument that advertising only induces people to switch brands.
These studies keep coming and find nothing because they set themselves up to find nothing’” (Abramson). “The NIAAA estimates that 14 million Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence and about 100,000 Americans die each year from alcohol-related injuries, one-fourth of them on the highways” (Abramson). Granted that these are not just children but they had to start somewhere too and more than likely they began drinking at a young age. One way to help reduce these injuries and deaths is to create counter-ads.
“Consumption decreases as the level of counter-advertising rises. Counter-advertising could be funded by taxing alcohol advertising” (Abramson). The study done by Saffer at the Marin Institute was a long one, it took three years to complete. “’Most researchers have little money and use inexpensive or free data on alcohol advertising expenditures that measure advertising at the national level with little annual change’, says Saffer. ‘I was able to obtain quarterly data that cost more than $25,000 from 75 cities, and that made all the difference’” (Abramson).
With all of his resources he was able to come to some concrete results using a proven theory. “Saffer used a theory known as the advertising response function, which says that consumption rises as advertising increases, bus as advertising reaches the point of saturation, consumption tapers off. To measure consumption, he used highway fatalities, more than 40 percent of which involve alcohol consumption” (Abramson). “Saffer’s statistical analyses of advertising expenditures showed that decreasing alcohol advertising reduces highway fatalities” (Abramson).
Another survey done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation gave remarkable results. “An overwhelming majority of Americans say they are worried about teen drinking and would support tough measures to help curb the problem” (New and Views). One particular finding was very interesting in that it said sixty-seven percent of Americans would support a ban on television advertising on liquor. If so many people want it, why isn’t on its way to becoming a law? “There are about 9 million drinkers under age 21 in the United States and half of them are binge drinkers.
When they drink, teens increase their risk of violence, date rape, sexually transmitted diseases and injury or death in traffic accidents” (Health You). These kids had to learn it somewhere. Television is becoming a way of life for many teenagers and they take what is on it as the truth. For many of them, discerning between what is the truth and what is just great advertising becomes near impossible. They need help and it is our responsibility as adults to help them. There is legislation now from Representative Kennedy called the “Children’s Protection from Alcohol Advertising Act”.
This “would eliminate advertising and marketing practices that have the most impact on young people. Remaining ads would, for the first time, honestly reflect that alcohol is the number-three killer in America today, taking a toll of 100,000 lives yearly. Those ads would bear a rotating series of health and safety messages, reminding all viewers and listeners of some of the major risks related to drinking. In addition, alcoholic-beverage product labels, for the first time, would be required to reveal comprehensive, useful consumer information, such as ingredients, calories, and alcohol content, expressed in unit serving terms” (Hacker).
The bill would answer the concerns of many parents and adults who feel the alcohol companies go too far in targeting youths. Alcohol companies need to be more responsible for who they target and they should also be prepared to handle the consequences of their actions as more and more people die as a result of their products. They are the ones that should be held accountable for the deaths of so many innocent people. They also should include in their advertisements the real facts. Doing this may deter people from becoming alcohol abusers.
The companies do not do this though, “By definition, alcohol advertising is one-sided, avoiding any reference to the negative aspects of alcohol consumption” (IAS). They need to tell the truth and the truth is that alcohol does no good for anyone, it only hurts and destroys people and the people around them. Yes – Alcohol Advertising Should Be Allowed On Television “Advertising increases alcohol consumption, which increases alcohol abuse…right? WRONG. There is no solid evidence from either scientific research or practical experience that this theory of advertising is correct” (Advertising Impact).
Alcohol is a legal substance so why wouldn’t it be allowed to be advertised on television? The First Amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to free speech. The American Advertising Federation opposes any effort to restrict truthful advertising about any product or service. “The U. S. Supreme Court has affirmed that truthful commercial speech enjoys the free speech protections of the First Amendment – including speech about so-called sin products. The government’s right to ban a product does not give it the right to ban speech about the product” (AAF).
The AAF does not want restrictions to even begin, “bans on advertising for one product or service inevitably will lead to bans on advertising for others. Censorship is contagious” (AAF). There are some that believe that the advertising would be okay if they would agree to put warnings on the advertisements. “The alcohol industry believes that the proposed requirement of warnings in alcohol advertisements is an infringement of their First Amendment rights” (Kelly). The advertising the alcohol industry does do is simply to keep the customers they already have.
“The focus of alcohol advertising is to encourage existing drinkers to maintain their brand preference, or to switch brands, and that it is not intended to attract new customers” (Kelly). “Much of the debate concerns the possible effects on children and young people. The Advertising Codes prohibit the specific targeting of minors” (IAS). Most children who watch television may like the cartoon characters but that isn’t going to make them go out and demand alcohol. They shouldn’t be allowed or able to obtain it so it shouldn’t really even matter if they see the advertisements for it.
“The evidence also suggests that advertising is of less importance than other influences such as parental attitudes and example and peer group pressure” (IAS). Final Conclusions As you can see from our research, there is solid evidence that advertising alcohol on television needs to stop the way it is being done right now. There are entirely too many targets put onto young viewers. The industry may claim that it is not targeting them but there is really no explanation otherwise. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come up with an exceptional set of rules for advertising alcohol on television. 1. Beverage alcohol advertising should not:
a. portray or encourage drinking by individuals under the age of 21; b. use celebrities, music stars, athletes, animals, cartoon characters or other language or images that have special appeal to youth; c. depict sports, rock concerts, or other events with strong appeal to youth; or d. target spring break activities or cultural, sporting, or marketing events where it can be anticipated that a majority of the audience will be made up of people under age 21. 2. Beverage alcohol advertising should not include the licensing of youth-oriented clothing or toys that feature alcohol brand names, logos, or trade characters. 2.
Beverage alcohol advertising should not portray or encourage drinking by pregnant women or women who are seeking to become pregnant. 3. Beverage alcohol advertising should not model, suggest, or otherwise encourage heavy consumption. 4. Beverage alcohol advertising should not portray or encourage drinking by alcoholics or other groups particularly vulnerable to alcohol abuse. 5. Beverage alcohol advertising should not state or imply that any level of alcohol consumption is risk-free or safe. 6. Beverage alcohol advertising should not associate alcohol consumption with high-risk activities or with situations that require alertness. 7.
Beverage alcohol advertising should not depict revelry or hint at the possibility of inebriation. 8. Beverage alcohol advertising should not portray drinking as a means to achieve popularity or social acceptance, sexual appeal, or social or financial status. 9. Beverage alcohol advertising should not portray drinking in association with sexual passion, promiscuity, or any other amorous activity as a consequence of or in association with alcohol consumption. These rules would be wonderful if the alcohol companies would follow them. But, with the First Amendment backing them up, they are not going to change the way they market without a fight.
The cartoons are working for them, so why should they change? There is a growing problem in this country with underage and binge drinking and these advertisements are only adding to the problem. We need to stop the problem at its root, which would mean taking the Budweiser frogs off the air. This is a great step toward reducing alcohol related deaths and injuries and it isn’t like the industry would be losing any money. They may even retain more profit because their advertising expense would be dramatically cut. We need to regulate these advertisements now! Bibliography American Advertising Federation (AAF).
“AAF Position Statement: Alcohol Advertising Bans”. Available: http://www. aaf. org/bans. html Abramson, Hillary. The Marin Institute. “Alcohol Ads Increase Drinking”. Available: http://www. marininstitute. org/saffer. html Addiction Research Foundation (ARF). “Facts about Alcohol”. Available: http://www. arf. org/isd/pim/alcohol. html “Advertising Impact on Alcohol Abuse”. Available: wysiwig://9/http://www2. potsdam. ed…-info/Advertising/Advertising. html Center for Media Education (CME). “Alcohol Advertising Targeted at Youth on the Internet: An Update”. Available: http://tap. epn. org/cme/981218/alcrep. html Hacker, George.
Center for Science in the Public Interest. Available: http://www. cspinet. org/booze/hacker. html Hacker, George. Press Conference on Alcohol Advertising Reforms. May 16, 1997. Available: http://www. cspinet. org/booze/516state. html Health You. May/June 1998. “Proms, Parents and Alcohol”. Available: IAS. Available: http://www. ias. org. uk/factsheets/advertising. htm Kelly, Kathleen and Ruth Edwards. “Image Advertisements for Alcohol Products: Is There Appeal Associated with Adolescents’ Intention to Consume Alcohol? ” Adolescence. Spring 1998. V33 n129 p47(13).