18 July 2018. Professor Christine Griffin, Department of Psychology, University of Bath; Dr Jeff Gavin, Department of Psychology, University of Bath; Professor Isabelle Szmigin, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham. https://alcoholchange.org.uk/publication/all-night-long-social-media-marketing-to-young-people-by-alcohol-brands-and-venues

Alcohol is a pervasive theme in young people’s social media interactions, and one of the products most likely to elicit ‘user engagement’ online (Ridout et al., 2011; Socialbakers, 2013; Winpenny et al., 2014). The recent expansion of social media use amongst under-25s has created unprecedented opportunities for marketing alcohol products, especially with the emergence of more interactive platforms alongside digital and mobile technologies (Carah et al., 2014; Weaver et al., 2013).

Most forms of social media alcohol marketing (SMAM) involve marketing messages created by alcohol brands alongside content created by consumers (‘user-generated content’ or UGC). Regulation of SMAM tends to focus on the former, but UGC can draw consumers into close interactive relationships with brands, products and drinking venues (Nicholls, 2012; McCreanor et al., 2013; Atkinson et al., 2014; Purves et al., 2014).

This project is the first to conduct a systematic analysis of online marketing aimed at young people in the UK by selected venues as well as alcohol brands, investigating young people’s engagement and the implications for the current UK advertising Codes of Practice.

The project:

  • Reviewed current social media marketing practices aimed at young people by bars and clubs as well as alcohol brands, examining a selected sample of cases in depth.
  • Investigated how young people below and above the legal age for purchasing alcohol engage with social media marketing by brands and venues, identifying the potential impacts on their drinking cultures, and exploring how these processes might be shaped by gender and social class.
  • Assessed the effectiveness of the current ASA Codes of Practice for regulating social media marketing aimed at young people.

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