Beam Global Spirits & Wine Principles: A Strong Step to Protect Our Kids

Beam Global Spirits & Wine Principles: A Strong Step to Protect Our Kids

Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.'s new marketing standards would reduce youth exposure on television by nearly 14% and in magazines by more than 10% if adopted by the rest of the alcohol industry, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) said yesterday.

In its new Statement of Voluntary Principles, the company adopts more protective standards than those of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Wine Institute, including a commitment to advertise only on programs or in magazines with at least 75% adult audiences, and to achieve annual aggregate average audience for each of its brands in each medium of at least 85% adults.

"This announcement represents significant movement toward further reducing youth exposure to alcohol industry advertising," said David Jernigan, executive director of CAMY. "It shows that Beam is serious about taking effective, measurable steps to reduce the appeal of its products to young people."

CAMY's analysis of the potential impact of the Beam standard was based on data licensed from Nielsen Media Research, TNS Media Intelligence and Mediamark Research Inc.

The Beam Voluntary Principles are the outcome of months of negotiations between the company and a group of state attorneys general.

"The attorneys general see first-hand the impact of underage drinking in their communities and their states, and they have shown they are going to do something about it," Jernigan said. "Their leadership should be a challenge to other policy makers to step up to the plate."

Beam also announced that the company:

  • will extend the new 75% standard to audiences at promotional events where Beam products are advertised or marketed, and to audiences of television programming where Beam makes or accepts paid placements or scripted mentions of its products;
  • will not accept or make paid placements or allow use of its products in videogames;
  • will not refer to Spring Break in advertising or promoting Beam products and will not market or advertise Beam products at Spring Break events held inside or outside the United States;
  • will not advertise or market its products in college and university newspapers or on college and university campuses;
  • will not introduce or market any products in the "Flavored Malt Beverage" (also known as "alcopops") category; and
  • will limit the manufacture and licensing of Beam brand logoed apparel only to sizes for adult men and women, and work with retailers to ensure that such apparel is sold only in appropriate adult sections of retail venues.

Numerous long-term federally-funded studies have found in recent years that the more youth are exposed to alcohol marketing, including advertising on broadcast and in print as well as at sporting events, retail outlets, and on logoed clothing, the more likely they are to drink. According to the Surgeon General, underage drinking causes 5,000 deaths each year of persons under 21, and the earlier young people begin drinking, the more likely they are to suffer harm from it.

In 2003, DISCUS strengthened its advertising placement standards from 50% to 30% maximum youth audiences, and the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) recommended that alcohol companies adopt a 25% youth maximum immediately and eventually move to a 15% youth (85% adult) standard. In May 2006, 20 state attorneys general called on the Federal Trade Commission to explore with the industry adopting this stronger standard. In March 2007, the U.S. Surgeon General called on the alcohol industry to ensure that the "placement of alcohol advertising, promotions, and other means of marketing do not disproportionately expose youth to messages about alcohol." Youth ages 12 to 20, the group most at risk of underage drinking according to federal surveys, are approximately 15% of the U.S. population age 12 and above.

"Beam Global Spirits & Wine and the state attorneys general deserve the congratulations of parents, teachers and policy makers for making this important step on behalf of our youth," said Jernigan. "Beam has set a new standard for responsibility – now it is up to the rest of the industry to match or improve upon it."