CONSUMER GROUP CALLS FOR TIGHTER ALCOHOL AD STANDARDS

Wants Industry Cap of 70% Adult Makeup in Media Raised to 85%

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth is calling for tighter standards for the placement of alcohol ads, saying the ads should not appear in media with more than 15% underage readership or viewership, down from the current 30% standard.

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Although the beer and spirits industry limits its advertising to media in which 70% of the audience is adult, the consumer group, which is often critical of alcohol marketing, said the total audience number doesn’t correctly report underage listeners and readers because of a lack of sampling of children younger than 12, and a failure to track youth readership at some newer magazines.

Magazines and radio
The result, according to the group, is that a 70% adult target using normal ratings figures actually reaches an audience more than 30% of youth under the legal drinking age of 21 and that the problem is especially prevalent for magazines and radio.

“Without an adjustment a 30% cap applied to magazines and radio is as much as twice as permissive as a 30% cap for television, because of an exclusion of audience data for children under 12, who are half of the 2 to 20 population,” according to a report issued by the group yesterday.

“Without an adjustment, alcohol advertisers will continue to place ads in magazines like Maxim, Sport Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan.” The group said publishers could still take ads if they were limited to editions for subscribers older than 21.

Data figures
The problem for 12 to 17 year olds is the main data is provided by an MRI study of 150 publications doesn’t include publications like Blender, Giant, XXL King and Smooth, the group said.

The group also cited statistics showing that too many alcohol ads were reaching children, and that alcohol companies have been slow to implement the new 70% standard.

The Beer Institute in a statement said some of CAMY’s statistics stemmed from a period immediately after a change in Beer Institute’s ad code that took effect Jan. 1, 2004, and ignored how the change affected new ad buys and media already bought under the previous 50% cap. The CAMY study examined the first seven months of 2004 as the alcohol industry's 30% threshold went into effect.

Ad buys preceded change
”Despite knowing the effective date of this change, CAMY's report applied the new 70% adult, 21 and older, audience composition standard to advertising buys CAMY knew preceded the change,” the statement said. “CAMY's own advertising figures indicate that the overwhelming majority of ads in first quarter 2004 meet the goal set out in our revised ad code, which reflects the demographics" from the Census Bureau.

The Beer Institute's statement said the Federal Trade Commission had earlier rejected CAMY’s call for a 15% cap, saying it would "prevent the companies from advertising in media where there is substantial adult interest."

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