Report

It Can Be Done: Reductions in Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising in Magazines, 2001–2005

  • August 03, 2007

From 2001 to 2005, youth exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines fell by 49%, according to an analysis conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) of 16,635 advertisements costing nearly $1.7 billion. The largest year-to-year drop occurred between 2004 and 2005, when youth exposure fell by more than a quarter. Alcohol industry trade associations adopted a more restrictive standard for advertising placements in the fall of 2003, and by 2005 nearly all alcohol advertisements in magazines were placed in magazines with youth audience compositions lower than the industry standard. Major findings of CAMY's analysis included:

  • Alcohol advertising in magazines declined overall, but youth exposure fell substantially more than adult exposure. From 2001 to 2005, youth exposure fell by 49%, while the number of alcohol advertisements placed per year fell by 20%, and adult exposure dropped by 30%. These drops reflect the trend of alcohol advertisers moving from magazines to television.
  • Youth overexposure to alcohol advertising in magazines also declined. For instance, youth overexposure to beer advertising peaked in 2002 when youth saw 57% more beer advertising in magazines than adults, but fell to only 7% more exposure in 2005. In 2005, youth also saw 19% more advertising for alcopops per capita than adults, and slightly less advertising for distilled spirits than adult readers.
  • Less than 1% of alcohol advertisements and alcohol advertising dollars in 2005 were directed to magazines exceeding the alcohol industry's voluntary standard of 30% maximum youth audience composition.
  • Forty-four percent of advertisements and 50% of spending in 2005 were in magazines with youth audience compositions that exceeded 15%–– roughly the proportion of youth ages 12 to 20 in the general age-12- and-above population.
  • In 2005, 81% of youth exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines came from advertisements placed in magazines with disproportionately large youth readerships.
  • The majority of alcohol brands (127 out of 201 brands) had either all or more than half of their advertising in publications with youth readerships below 15%. However, 36 brands had all of their advertising and 38 brands had the majority of theirs in magazines read disproportionately by youth.
  • More than half of youth exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines came from 18 brands, 16 of which overexposed youth ages 12 to 20 relative to adults age 21 and over. These 18 brands accounted for approximately 36% of all alcohol advertising spending in magazines in 2005.

In 2003, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine recommended that alcohol companies move their advertising toward magazines with a maximum of 15% youth audiences, a figure roughly proportionate to the presence of persons ages 12 to 20 in the population age 12 and above. The U.S. Surgeon General recently called on alcohol companies to ensure that "the placement of alcohol advertising, promotions, and other means of marketing do not disproportionately expose youth to messages about alcohol." While the majority of alcohol brands do not disproportionately expose youth to their advertising, the placement practices of a relatively small number of brands need to change for further progress to be made in reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines.