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).

Testing content restrictions in self-regulation codes In 2010, the five NGOs participating in the AMMIE project selected 84 alcohol marketing practices that appeared to be in violation of existing national rules for self-regulation. We filed complaints against these practices at the national Alcohol Advertising Committees, who are to decide whether these complaints are to be upheld (or not).

The NGOs proceeded to ask five Youth Rating Panels from the participating countries to give their opinions on a selection of the complaints. In Denmark, 40 youngsters participated, in Germany 30, and in the Netherlands 37. In Italy, 57 young people were included in the first round, whereas the last group consisted of only 22 young people. In Bulgaria, 29 people took part in the first round, and in the fourth round 21 youngsters took part. Altogether, 199 young people between 12-18 years of age participated in one or more rounds. Their answers were compared to the decisions of the Advertising Code Committees.

The full fact sheet can be downloaded and read here

Alcohol marketing regulations in Europe How effective are they De Bruijn and Van den Broeck (2011) have developed a framework to evaluate the effectiveness of existing alcohol marketing regulations and have used this to analyse which European countries have the best and worst regulations.

Key points of the fact sheet are:

 Effective alcohol marketing regulations are an essential control measure in a comprehensive alcohol policy that aims to decrease alcohol-related harm and to protect young people.  Effective alcohol marketing regulations are recommended to restrict the volume of alcohol marketing practices to protect harmful exposure to alcohol advertising among young people.  When alcohol marketing practices are allowed, also content restrictions are recommended to allow alcohol advertisements that contain solely product information.  Volume and content restrictions are only effective when a strong regulatory system supports the enforcement of the regulation.  Alcohol marketing regulations in France and Norway can be seen as best practices in Europe: here strong volume or content restrictions go together with a strong supportive regulation system.  Legislation is significantly more effective than self-regulation systems in ensuring the combination between strong restrictions and an effective supporting system.

The full fact sheet can be downloaded and read here