Applying a method adopted from a court in the US to identify underage targeting of advertising, researchers from CAMY (the Centre of Alcohol Marketing and Youth) and Virtual Media Resources (VMR) have found evidence of targeting of alcohol advertising to underage viewers ages 18–20. This evidence was found when the researchers were looking for reasons why under age exposure in the US and the Netherlands over recent years has grown faster than any adult age group.
The findings which are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Public Health Policy are based on a US court rule from 2002 against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The State of California claimed that Reynolds’ placement of cigarette advertisements in magazines for the period 1999–2001 violated the ban on youth targeting. This ruling was based on evidence that data was available to the company to show that its advertising was exposing youth at effectively the same rate as adults. Additionally, there was evidence that the company could implement alternative advertising schedules using different magazines to avoid targeting youth while maintaining effective targeting of young adults.
To gather this evidence, the court established a standard, defining ‘targeting’ as exposure for youth that was ‘not substantially different’ from adults. The researchers of CAMY and VMR used this definition of ‘targeting’ on the alcohol industry. Analysing US advertising data from between 2005 and 2011, the researchers set out to identify reasons why youth exposure grew faster than adult exposure; examine evidence of targeting using the above mentioned standard; and determine if alternative advertising schedules could be used to reach the same number of adults while reducing youth exposure.
The researchers conclude that using the 2002 Californian court standard of ‘targeting’ there is evidence of targeting of 18–20-years olds relative to 21–24-year olds with alcopops, beer, and spirits advertisers in each year from 2008 through 2011. Additionally, they demonstrate that alternative advertising strategies could be created that maintain exposure of legal-age adults ages 21–24 while reducing exposure of underage viewers ages 18–20.
Their findings strengthen the researchers in their call for independent monitoring of alcohol marketing and for the alcohol industry to use more reliable measuring methods.
Picture Source: SXC.HU