Author: Barry AE, Johnson E, Rabre A, Darville G, Donovan KM, Efunbumi O. Title: Underage access to online alcohol marketing content: a YouTube case study Journal: Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2014;ePub(ePub):ePub-ePub. AbstractOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Aims: With the proliferation of the Internet and online social media use, alcohol advertisers are now marketing their products through social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. As a result, new recommendations have been made by the Federal Trade Commission concerning the self-regulation of digital marketing strategies, including content management on social and digital media sites. The current study sought to determine whether alcohol companies were implementing the self-imposed mandates that they have developed for online marketing. Specifically, we examined whether alcohol companies were implementing effective strategies that would prevent persons under the minimum legal drinking age in the USA from accessing their content on YouTube. Methods: We assessed 16 alcohol brands (beer and liquor) associated with the highest prevalence of past 30 day underage alcohol consumption in the USA. Fictitious YouTube user profiles were created and assigned the ages of 14, 17 and 19. These profiles then attempted to access and view the brewer-sponsored YouTube channels for each of the 16 selected brands. Results: Every underage profile, regardless of age, was able to successfully subscribe to each of the 16 (100%) official YouTube channels. On average, two-thirds of the brands' channels were successfully viewed (66.67%). Conclusion: Alcohol industry provided online marketing content is predominantly accessible to underage adolescents. Thus, brewers are not following some of the self-developed and self-imposed mandates for online advertising by failing to implement effective age-restriction measures (i.e. age gates).
The Australian Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has decided that all comments on commercial Facebook pages, including comments posted by members of the public, are regarded as advertisements for the brand behind the page. This means all comments on commercial Facebook pages must comply with the Australian advertising regulations. For alcohol brands and products, the advertising regulations include the alcohol industry’s self- regulated Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC). The ASB ruling was provoked by a complaint against the Smirnoff Vodka Facebook page. A complainant alleged that comments posted on Smirnoff’s page were offensive, sexist and depicted underage and irresponsible drinking. Although the ASB dismissed the specific complaints it decided that comments posted on Facebook fit the definition of advertising: “any material which is published or broadcast using any medium or any activity which is undertaken by or on behalf of an advertiser or marketer and over which the advertiser has reasonable control and draws the attention of the public calculated to promote … a product [or] service …” According to the ASB, commercial companies are responsible for all comments that are published on their Facebook pages because they control the sites. It means third party-generated, untruthful or offensive comments posted by anonymous ‘friends’ on commercial Facebook pages will be subject to consumer protection laws and regulations governing advertising. A legal opinion quoted by The Age(1) suggested untruthful comments could include the assertion that ‘X vodka is Russian’ or that ‘X vodka is the purest vodka’ if those statements make a false claim. A statement such as ‘drinking B beer leads to sexual success’ would contravene the advertising regulations and the ABAC. Of course much advertising is designed to convey those messages by implication or association, but without making blatant claims. This news article was taken from the GrogWatch Newsletter of the Australian Drug Foundation

r_trend-report-new-media Alcohol marketing on the internet and other new media is on the rise. This trend report shows how advertisers utilize the possibilities of new media by creating interactive marketing that is more and more personalized to attract specific target groups. The report shows how alcohol advertisers attract young people by approaching them at several social network sites, through banners on popular websites and approaching them directly by sending emails or creating a fan club.

The full trend report can be read and downloaded here