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Alcoholism & Addiction

Alcohol Advertising Heavily Targets African American Teens

Advertising focused on marketing alcohol and tobacco products requires careful regulation. The industry self-regulates marketing, including avoiding placing ads in the media most consumed by underage youth. However, because teenagers are heavy consumers of media, advertisers must be diligent about understanding the demographics of the media where they place ads.

A new study by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) provides new information about an audience being heavily targeted by alcohol advertisers. The results indicate that there is a need for immediate action to reduce the exposure to alcohol advertising among these teens.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that African-American teens view more alcohol advertisements on television and in magazines than the general population of youth.

The study looked at the exposure this group experiences not only by type and brand name, but also exposure to advertisements that relate to black adults from various media companies.

African-American youth use alcohol in favor of other drugs. The abuse of alcohol is associated with a higher risk of negative consequences, such as risky sexual behaviors, injury and car accidents as well as violence.

In previous studies, researchers have identified a connection between alcohol advertising exposure and an increased likelihood of drinking among teenagers.

The director of CAMY, David Jernigan, PhD, explained that alcohol brands are intentionally targeting African-Americans and because African-American teenagers view a high level of media, there is a need for a commitment from alcohol companies to reduce the exposure to this population.

The report stated that African-American youth had a 32 percent higher level of exposure to alcohol advertising in national magazines when compared with the general teen population. Five magazines that have especially high levels of alcohol advertising when compared to other magazines and are widely read by African-American teens are Vibe, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Essence, and Jet.

The study also identified certain brands that target African-American teens more than the general youth population. The brands identified were Hennessy Cognacs, Dry Gin, Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin, Jacques Cardin Cognac, 1800 Silver Tequila and Seagram’s Twisted Gin.

The report shows that African-American teens were exposed to 17 percent more television advertising related to alcohol when compared to the general population, and 20 percent more advertising related to distilled liquors. Some networks showed an unusually high level of alcohol advertising: TNT, SoapNet, BET and TV One, all networks heavily watched by African-American teens.

In addition, certain types of radio stations had increased levels of advertising for alcohol. Among those radio stations heavily listened to by African-American teens, urban stations, contemporary pop stations and others had increased levels of alcohol advertising.

The findings of the report highlight the need for advertising companies and alcohol brands to take immediate action to reduce the exposure of alcohol advertising to African-American teens.

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