Jul 1, 2005
Despite nationwide age restrictions on alcohol consumption, most youth have tried alcohol by the end of high school, and half are current drinkers by that time. Experts theorize that exposure to alcohol advertising, particularly ads whose content may hold special appeal for youth, may contribute to the problem. To assess whether children as young as 9 are affected by beer advertising, a group of RAND researchers surveyed a large sample of Midwestern children in the 4th and 9th grades. Whereas the 4th graders were almost entirely in the pre-alcohol-drinking stage, most of the 9th graders had already tried drinking. The researchers compared the two groups' awareness of, as well as exposure and attention to, beer advertising. To assess whether survey responses differed according to the characteristics of the ads, the researchers compared recognition of an ad for a popular beer that featured a talking ferret and lizards with reactions to other beer ads. To establish a benchmark indicating awareness of ads targeted at youth, they also examined responses to an ad for a popular soft drink. Their findings:
The researchers recommend that beer advertisers avoid advertising practices that appeal to youth.