Yesterday a report by RAND Europe on young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing through television and online media was published. The study was commissioned by the European Commission Health and Consumer Directorate-General (DG SANCO) and suggests that adolescents in the UK and the Netherlands are overexposed to alcohol marketing, compared to adults.


The research was conducted by RAND Europe, an independent not-for-profit policy research organization that aims to improve policy and decision making in the public interest, through research and analysis. The main conclusions from the report are:

1. Adolescents in the UK and the Netherlands were more likely than adults to be exposed to alcohol advertising on television. In Germany adolescents had a lower exposure to alcohol adverts than adults.

2. Many television alcohol adverts contained content considered appealing to young people, with some variation observed between the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

3. Social media case studies of a selection of alcohol brands showed that these all have considerable online media presence featuring both marketer-generated and user –generated content.

4. Use of age verification mechanisms to restrict access to alcohol-related content are used by alcohol marketers and social media providers but their effectiveness remains uncertain.

5. There is a need to better understand the relationship between national frameworks influencing programming and advertising behaviours and their impact on youth exposure to alcohol advertising.

The overall aim of the research presented in the report was to use new ways to measure alcohol advertisement exposure among young people in Europe through audiovisual and online media. To do this, the RAND researchers used a variety of methods. To assess young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing in television, the analysis relied on commercially available data on television audiences and on alcohol advertising in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis were applied to estimate the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising compared with that of adults.

Second, alcohol advertising portrayals of a sample of alcohol adverts broadcast in each of the three countries were analyzed to better understand the extent to which advertisements are using elements that have been identified as appealing to young people. In a third step, the extent to which alcohol portrayals in these adverts adhere to national statutory or voluntary codes on (alcohol) advertising in each country, and with policies developed by the alcohol industry itself was assessed.

Lastly, the study explored exposure to alcohol marketing in online media, focusing on the UK. Data on online media channels accessed by young people was examined, the main types of social media marketing messages for alcoholic beverages were described, and the use of age gates to restrict content to those over the legal drinking age were assessed.

The full report can be downloaded from the website of the European Commission

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