A new study in the international scientific journal Addiction suggests that the average US adolescent is heavily exposed to alcohol brand references in popular music. Genres like rap, hip hop and R&B being the main source of ‘brand dropping’. The study showed that in every hour of popular music, about 3.4 alcohol brands appeared. Given that the average US adolescent is exposed to about 2.5 hours of popular music per day, they hear 8 alcohol brand references per day. 

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh analyzed 793 of the most popular songs in the youth market between 2005 and 2007 and found that about 25% of the songs that mention alcohol also mention a brand name. These songs often associated positive consequences with alcohol (41.5%), brands were often associated with wealth (63.4%), sex (58.5%), luxury objects (51.2%), partying (48.8%), other drugs (43.9%), and vehicles (39.0%).

The researchers argue that frequent exposure of adolescents to brand-name references in popular music may ‘constitute a form of advertising and could contribute to the early initiation and maintenance of substance use among adolescents’. Furthermore, it is pointed out in the article that brands found in music, such as Patron Tequila, Grey Goose Vodka, and Hennessey Cognac, represent the same distilled spirits brands that are increasingly popular with underage drinkers, especially women.

The article also examines the ties between the alcohol and music industries. Specifically pointed out are alcohol companies that have taken over record labels and artists with their own line of alcoholics product, such as Jay-Z (Armadale Vodka, 2002), Snoop Dogg (Landy Cognac, 2008) and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Ciroc Vodka, 2001).

While most instances of brand-name references in song lyrics seem to be unsolicited and unpaid for by advertising companies, the relationship between alcohol producers and the music industry appears murky. The authors state that advertising companies have begun retroactively to reward artists with product, sponsorship, or endorsement deals after a song containing their product’s name becomes popular.

Source: Addiction 10/20/11

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