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The sellers of alcohol should have the right to advertise their product. But they should be considerate of who is most likely going to be seeing their ads and who will be influenced.

Johnson L., Michigan State University senior

 

They do have a right to advertise since it’s a legal drug. We need to educate people about the lies they are selling.

Allison T., Fordham University junio

Chapter 12.   Advertising... this Bud's for you

Upon your arrival on the college campus, you became a major target of the alcohol advertising industry. Sponsorships and promotions on college campuses by alcohol producers and the use of celebrities and youth-oriented musical groups in advertising create a pro-use drinking environment.60 The alcohol industry is counting on you to fuel their sales. After all, they lose their older customers to alcohol related illness and injuries, so they need an ongoing supply of new ones. The college campus provides fertile ground for new ones.

 

  • Since 1997, alcohol advertising has been increasing over college campuses from students wearing alcohol-related appeal such as Bud Light shirts to coupons for alcohol purchases to flyers on campus such as the dining halls and off campuses such as liquor stores.61 

 

  • A 2001 study was done by the College Alcohol Study (CAS) of the Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers of this study observed the alcohol advertisement of 119 colleges that participated. They sampled over 10,000 students and 830 on-campus sites and 1,684 off-campus sites. The results of the study showed that alcohol advertising such as specials and promotions especially on weekends were available and prevalent. Nearly three quarters of the on campus grounds and about half of the grounds off campus had some type of beer advertising such as discount prices, coupons and other alcohol-related messages. 62

 

  • U.S. college students now spend $5.5 billion on alcohol annually.63

 

  • The four brands – Jack Daniel's whisky, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka and Patron tequila – accounted for more than half the alcohol brand-specific mentions in songs that reference alcohol on Billboard Magazine's year-end charts from 2009-2011. The infiltration of brand mentions in music is a major element of alcohol marketing.64

 

  • West Virginia is one school that has started beer sales at football games. Athletic Director Oliver Luck expects profits of about one million dollars from the sales. “With the deficits that are being run at some schools getting bigger, you’re going to have more and more schools going to it,” he said. Some colleges, including Iowa’s three largest universities, only sell beer to people in luxury suites.65

 

  • On average, college students spend more money on booze than books. Most college students drink more beer than anything else.66

 

Often peer pressure is cited as the primary cause of high-risk alcohol consumption on the college campus. But what influences these peers? How are they socialized? The industry’s own advertising relies heavily on peer pressure. The rock stars, celebrities and athletes who frolic in the beer commercials serve as “sample peers” promoting drinking as an integral part of collegiate life. Beer advertising provides an entry-level education for youth about the uses and gratification of the product. Positive images consistently link desirable traits to their product and reinforce the association.67

 

If you are an average 18 or 19 year-old entering college, you could be viewing nearly one thousand beer, wine and liquor ads in the mass media each year. This advertising promotes the perceived benefits of alcohol consumption. Take a good look at the advertisements for alcohol. Are the images they present consistent with what you view on your campus? Or are there many more negative outcomes than the industry would like to let you know? Is the portrayal of women in these ads consistent with your beliefs? If not, do you realize that by purchasing these products you are perpetuating the myths they present about alcohol consumption and women?

 

If you are disturbed by the images presented in alcohol advertising, then I have a suggestion. Have you ever noticed that in every magazine you pick up, there’s a bunch of postcards urging you to subscribe to the magazine? Well, send in the card letting the publisher know you would consider subscribing if they would remove the degrading and misleading ads for alcohol. It will cost you nothing if you use their cards. And, you will be making an important statement regarding the portrayal of women in advertising, as well as your desire for truth in advertising.

Alcohol Advertising Themes

Comfort and Fun

Power and Success

Risk and Adventure

Romance and Sex

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Personal Challenge: Drinking Choices

 

Goal

To raise awareness of the factors that may influence your drinking choices.

 

Instructions

Circle the answer that best reflects the degree to which the situation influences you to want to have a drink.

(Electronic version currently under construction.)

 

1. You were eating an enjoyable meal?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

2. You were watching television?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

3. You were visiting friends, some of whom were drinking?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

4. You had just completed a difficult task that had taken you a long time to finish?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

5. You were tense and anxious?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

6. You just had a big argument with someone in your family?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

7. You were relaxing after a busy day?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

8. You hadn’t had a drink in awhile and someone offered you one?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

9. You were waiting for a very important phone call that was 15 minutes late?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

10. You were at a party and someone offered you a drink?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

11. You were at a sporting or entertainment event?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

12. You felt as if you really needed a drink?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

13. You were with a friend who urged you to drink?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

14. You were meeting a few friends in a bar?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

15. You were alone and feeling depressed?

Definitely Yes  Probably Yes Maybe    Probably No Definitely No

 

16. You were celebrating a special occasion?

Definitely Yes  Probably Yes Maybe    Probably No Definitely No

 

17. You were doing paperwork such as studying, paying bills, or writing a letter?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

18. You wanted to feel more sophisticated and attractive?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No
 

19. You were bored?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

20. Could you refrain from drinking regardless of the circumstances?

Definitely Yes     Probably Yes     Maybe     Probably No      Definitely No

 

Reflections

  1. What factors influence your drinking choices?

  2. For each of the statements you answered Yes to, are there other ways to deal with the situation rather than drinking alcohol?

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Adapted from Making Choices: A Personal Look at Alcohol & Drug Use (1992). McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Quinn/Scaffa.