Money Spent on Beer Ads Linked to Underage Drinking

Money Spent on Beer Ads Linked to Underage Drinking

New research from Iowa State University should come as no surprise.  Beer company advertising influences adolescent attitudes and behavior.

The Iowa State study was led by Professor Douglas Gentile and colleagues.

The researchers found that beer companies “use cognitive and affective strategies — humor, animation, funny voices, special effects” — that often appeal to teens.

To test their thesis that these commercials are a significant influence on the cohort, Gentile and his group looked at the money spent on beer ads to see if it had an impact on beer brand awareness, preference, loyalty, and use among teens.

They found the following:

Of the 1,588 middle and high school students surveyed, more than half (55%) had at least one alcoholic drink in the past year, 31% had one or more drinks at least once a month, and 43% of monthly drinkers engaged in heavy drinking. When asked to name their two favorite TV commercials, alcohol-related ads had the highest recall (32%) followed by soft drinks (31%), fashion (19%), automotive (14%), and sports (9%). A quarter of those surveyed said they owned alcohol-related products.

The researchers also found that in addition to advertising, parent and peer approval of drinking were all significant predictors of a teen’s intention to also drink later in life.

All of this research confirms earlier national studies, including one in 2006 that found greater exposure to alcohol advertising is a factor found to increase drinking among teens. That study specifically found that for each additional ad a young person saw (above the monthly youth average of 23 ads), he or she drank 1% more and that for each additional dollar per capita spent on alcohol advertising in a local market (above the national average of $6.80 per capita), young people drank 3% more.[1]

Another study found that 7th grade students in Los Angeles who viewed more television programs containing alcohol commercials were more likely by the eighth grade to drink beer, wine/liquor, often in significant quantities.[2]

Researchers following thousands of students in South Dakota from seventh to ninth grade found that exposure to in-store beer displays in grade 7 influenced the onset of drinking by grade 9.[3]

In the end, the link between beer ads and consumption is not in dispute. 

What is up for debate is what to do about it.

If you are the parent of young or adolescent children, these tips may help keep your children safe:

Lead by example.  If you are going to drink – do so responsibly at all times. Don’t drink to excess, and never drink and drive.
Starting when they are young, talk to your children about the dangers of abusing any intoxicating substance.
Appeal to a child’s sense of rebellion and remind your kids that alcohol companies use clever tactics to manipulate them.

If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help.  Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional rehab care.  To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, please contact us.



[1] L.B. Snyder, F.F. Milici, M. Slater, H. Sun, and Y. Strizhakova, “Effects of Alcohol Advertising Exposure on Drinking Among Youth,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160 (2006): 18-24.

[2] A.W. Stacy, J.B. Zogg, J.B. Unger, and C.W. Dent, “Exposure to Televised Alcohol Ads and Subsequent Adolescent Alcohol Use,” American Journal of Health Behavior 28, no. 6 (2004): 498-509.

[3] P.L. Ellickson, R.L.Collins, K.Hambarsoomians, and D.R. McCaffrey, “Does Alcohol Advertising Promote Adolescent Drinking? Results From a Longitudinal Assessment,” Addiction 100 (2005): 235-46.