The content of alcohol ads placed in magazines is more likely to be in violation of industry guidelines if the ad appears in a magazine with sizable youth readership, according to a new study from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study is the first to measure the relationship of problematic content to youth exposure, and the first to examine risky behaviors depicted in alcohol advertising in the past decade.
The researchers examined 1,261 ads for alcopops, beer, spirits or wine that appeared more than 2,500 times in 11 different magazines that have or are likely to have disproportionately youthful readerships - that is, youth readerships equaling or exceeding 15 percent. Ads were analyzed for different risk codes: injury content, overconsumption content, addiction content, sex-related content and violation of industry guidelines. This latter category refers to the voluntary codes of good marketing practice administered by alcohol industry trade associations. Examples of code violations include ads appearing to target a primarily underage audience, highlighting the high alcohol content of a product or portraying alcohol consumption in conjunction with activities requiring a high degree of alertness or coordination such as swimming.
"The finding that violations of the alcohol industry's advertising standards were most common in magazines with the most youthful audiences tells us self-regulated voluntary codes are failing," said CAMY Director and study co-author David Jernigan, PhD. "It's time to seriously consider stronger limits on youth exposure to alcohol advertising."