Concern about how much television alcohol advertising reaches underage youth and how the advertising influences their attitudes and decisions about alcohol use has been widespread for many years. Lacking in the policy debate has been solid, reliable information about the extent of youth exposure to television alcohol advertising. To address this critical gap, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth commissioned Virtual Media Resources, a media planning and research firm in Natick, Massachusetts, to analyze television alcohol advertising in 2001, using the same data and methodology as professional media planners.
In auditing 208,909 alcohol ad placements on television in 2001, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth finds the following:
- The alcohol industry's voluntary guidelines for ad placements on television are so lax that they allow the substantial exposure of youth to alcoholic beverage advertising, including advertising on programs with disproportionate numbers of young people in the viewing audience.
- Even when adults were more likely to see television alcohol advertising than youth, in many instances youth saw almost as much television alcohol advertising as the adults.
- Because of the placement of the commercials, almost a quarter of alcohol advertising on television in 2001 was more likely to be seen by youth than adults.