9th of February 2021 by Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Advertising alcohol has been linked to young people starting to drink at earlier ages as well as heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking). This is a concerning impact of alcohol adverting as young people are exposed to over $100 million of alcohol advertising each year through television, radio, billboards and increasingly via social media.

The main problem is that advertisements link appealing images of alcohol to good times, good feelings, friendship and success, which is clearly problematic if shown to young people specifically.

Given that alcohol advertising in Australia is self-regulatory and voluntary, alcohol companies themselves are in charge of making sure the Advertising Code is not breached, but indeed it gives a lot of freedom in terms of content.

Eventually, if companies breach the rules, they rarely encounter in any penalties or consequences. In fact, The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) have discovered dozens of breaches to the alcohol industry’s voluntary advertising code on the Facebook pages of popular alcohol brands.

Many of the Facebook content contained images of under 25-year-olds drinking, celebrated heavy episodic drinking, contained offensive language and implied alcohol is connected to social success, good moods and good times.

Again, this is problematic as celebrating heavy episodic drinking among young people has been linked to increases in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems.

Some examples as to how companies can reach people on social media are:

– that of creating official Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages for fans where they post pictures and memes, polls, host competitions or share videos. This creates word-of-mouth and publicity for them when users re-post or share these contents.

– Also, alcohol companies pay influencers to promote the alcohol brand, and in Australia specifically, many famous influencers have found to be indeed sponsors, who can easily reach young people in particular.

– User-generated content is another very common practice because it creates a lot of discourse on behalf of users, exonerating alcohol companies from being “guilty” of promotion.

To read the whole article click on the following link: https://adf.org.au/insights/alcohol-social-media-youth/. 

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