Alcohol Ads Increased From 2001 to 2003

The trends of an ever-increasing number of ads and continued overexposure of underage youth mark alcohol advertising on television from 2001 to 2003, according to a analysis by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY): 

  • The number of ads increased each year, with an explosion of ads for distilled spirits on national cable networks leading the way: 298,054 alcohol ads ran on television in 2003, up from 289,381 in 2002 and 208,909 in 2001. Distilled spirits ads on cable networks grew from 513 in 2001 to 33,126 in 2003.
  • With the continued increase of alcohol ads on television, the number of ads “overexposing” underage youth, ages 12 to 20, increased each year as well: 69,054 in 2003, up from 66,218 in 2002 and 51,084 in 2001.
  • In this category of “overexposing” ads, beer companies ran the most ads in each of the three years, but distilled spirits advertising went from fourth place in 2001 (behind beer, “alcopops,”2 and wine) to second place in 2003.
  • Between 2001 and 2003, the number of ads placed on programming where underage youth, ages 12 to 20, make up more than 30% of the audience grew by 48.3%, from 24,512 to 36,344. In September 2003, the beer and distilled spirits industries announced a “reform” of their advertising codes: member companies pledged not to place ads where the underage audience is 30% or more of the audience. The 2001 to 2003 trend indicates the industry will need to make significant shifts to comply with the new code, and a preliminary analysis of the first six months of 2004 indicates these shifts have yet to occur. Moreover, a 30% threshold allows alcohol companies to place their ads where underage youth are two times more likely to see them than adults, because 30% is twice the percentage of youth in the general population.