Crafty Alcohol Advertising Directed at Adolescents Through Music & Branding

on 14/04/14 at 8:36 am

Booze News

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  • Researchers investigate links between adolescents’ involvement with music and their drinking-related behaviors.
  • Results indicate strong associations between liking, owning, and correctly identifying music containing alcohol branding and two early problematic alcohol outcomes.
  • Study authors suggest policy or educational interventions to reduce the impact of these exposures.

Alcohol consumption among adolescents is high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of U.S. adolescents are current drinkers, and roughly 22 percent are current binge drinkers. The average U.S. adolescent is also exposed to about 2.5 hours of popular music per day, and eight mentions of alcohol brands every day. A new study of linkages between adolescents’ involvement with music containing alcohol-brand mentions and their alcohol-related behaviors has found strong and independent associations between the two.

Results will be published in the June 2014 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“Average exposure is about eight alcohol brand name mentions per day,” explained Brian A. Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and corresponding author for the study. “This is based on average exposure of 2.5 hours of music per day, with 3-4 brand mentions each hour. However, this is just an average. For some kids, it will be more, and for others it will be less.”

“Alcohol brand names are quite prevalent in popular music,” added Lisa Henriksen, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “For example, hip-hop/rap lyrics favor luxury brands, such as Cristal and Hennessy, and brand references in rap music have increased four-fold over time, from eight percent in 1979 to 44 percent in 1997. It would be foolish to think that the alcohol industry is unaware of and uninvolved with alcohol-brand mentions in music. The strategy of associating products with hip culture and celebrities who are attractive to youth comes straight from a playbook written by the tobacco industry.”

“We believe that this is the first study of its kind for three primary reasons,” said Primack. “First, it is large and nationally representative; second, it measured alcohol brand exposure in some relatively rigorous and innovative ways; and third, it was able to control for a number of important covariates.”

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