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Study: Kids See Fewer Alcohol Ads

Though youth exposure to alcohol marketing on TV overall and in national magazines has declined roughly 6 percent from 2001 to 2006, exposure to alcohol ads on cable TV has increased, a new study has found.

The research from the Council on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that while there's been a 50 percent drop in magazine exposure for such advertisements, exposure to TV ads rose 30 percent. The data is contained in CAMY's new study out today, "Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising on Television and in National Magazines, 2001 to 2006."

"There's been an explosion in the TV medium," said CAMY's executive director David Jernigan, adding that television had seen a strong increase in youth exposure to alcohol marketing during the study period, and that the main drivers have been the distilled spirits brands. "Alcohol marketers are all over the cable channels. The last thing kids need is more exposure to alcohol ads, and putting those ads on [TV] stations does exactly that."

According to Nielsen Media Research, ad spending for beer and ale on TV was $668 million in 2001 and almost $800 million in 2006, a 19.8 percent increase. Distilled spirits' spend was $7.15 million on TV in 2001 and $142.43 million in 2006, an increase of 1,892 percent.

However, according to Frank Coleman, a rep for the Distilled Spirits Council, Washington, that 30 percent increase in exposure represents a "general migration of alcohol marketing to cable, where the ability to target adults is very precise versus magazines."

Further, Coleman said that CAMY's data is skewed by its use of non-standard measurements, which begin with 12-year-olds.

"That's not a standard measure of the population," he said. "If you look at Mediacom or Nielsen Data, it [starts at] 2-plus [years old], so [CAMY] overcounts 12-20 year olds."

According to Jernigan, the top three offenders on the channel roster are Comedy Central, VH1 and BET. While the latter two have made efforts to reduce the volume of their alcohol marketing, Comedy Central's has only grown since 2001. CAMY data shows that both VH1 and BET peaked in 2004, with $11 million and $3.6 million in advertising revenues from alcohol marketers, respectively, while those numbers had since fallen to $1.5 million and $2,800 by the end of 2006. Conversely, Comedy Central has been on a steady increase since 2003, reaching $21.3 million in ad revenues from alcohol marketers in 2006.

A shrinking market, magazine ad revenues from distilled spirits reached its peak in 2002 at $260 million industry-wide, a lofty sum that dwindled to $205 million by 2006. Moving away from print marketing, Jernigan said he felt distilled spirits marketers were increasingly looking to TV as a means of "leveling the playing field with beer" marketing.

(The CAMY study combined Nielsen audience data with Nielsen Monitor-Plus occurrence data to analyze TV advertising for local and network broadcast, as well as network cable for the years of the study. For magazines, the study used audience data from MRI and placement data from TNS Media Intelligence. Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.)


Eric Newman, Adweek. December 20, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.. All rights reserved.