New Alcohol Study Refuted By Industry

For better or worse, the issue of alcohol advertising and underage drinkers is back on the table. The Center of Alcohol Marketing and Youth held a press conference yesterday to tout a new study, which it says shows excessive exposure of beer and ale to youths.

Called “Television: Alcohol’s Vast Adland,” former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler was among the names on the CAMY side. The report made a case for exposure on beer and ale products, but did not produce any appreciable evidence on how “alcopops” were affecting the underage audience.

According to CMR and Nielsen Media data cited by the group, more than 7,000 grps for beer and ale ads were served to youths 12-20 in 2001. Less than 1,000 were served for “low alcohol refreshers.” The report singled out five networks, the WB, UPN, Comedy Central, BET and VH-1, for routinely overexposed youth to alcohol advertising in 2001.

The ad industry was quick to react to the report. "Alcohol ads have been studied for decades by the FTC and other government organizations. There has never been any evidence that alcohol ads lead to underage drinking,” said Jeff Perlman, executive vice president-government affairs and general counsel, American Advertising Federation. “In fact, according to a University of Michigan study in today's Wall Street Journal, there is a decline in alcohol use by junior high and high school students. We would also like to point out that no one can match the alcohol industry's long-term commitment to public-service advertising that discourages underage drinking, along with warning adults to drink responsibly."

The CAMY has also created an ambitious database (www.camy.org) to research how much alcohol advertising, according to its research, could be seen in a particular market and during a particular show. For example, in the New York Market, for 2001, Fear Factor had 24 beer spots during the year. In auditing 66,297 alcohol ad placements on television in the New York television market during 2001, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth finds that youth were more likely than adults to see 20,369 ads, or 30.7% of ads that were shown in New York during 2001.

Next steps by the CAMY or the AAF were not specified.