Anti-alcohol ad campaign launched


The Marin Institute has kicked off its second anti-alcohol advertising invitation. It targets the Super Bowl, which it calls “the biggest alcohol advertising and intoxication day of the year.” It challenges producers from age 10 to 25 to take on big alcohol with 30- and 60-second ads.

“Day after day, year after year, youth and young adults are bombarded and harmed by Big Alcohol,” said Marin’s Michael Scippa. “This year’s contest asks for help identifying ‘Big Al’s’ many faces, especially those that encourage underage drinking. We’re challenging young filmmakers to show us what Big Al looks like, where they see Big Al, and how Big Al harms them, their friends, and families.”

Entrants have until 1/26/10, two weeks before the Super Bowl, to get their submissions to Marin will use YouTube to showcase entries. The ads are supposed to “counter excessive alcohol advertising.”

According to Marin Institute, “Between 2001 and 2007, Big Alcohol (global beer, wine, and spirits companies) placed more than 2 million alcohol ads on TV. This year, foreign-based alcohol corporations will spend half a billion dollars advertising during TV sports programs alone. These programs have the largest youth ad viewing audience of any type of programming with alcohol ads. It’s no secret Big Alcohol experiences its largest overall sales increase during the two-week period surrounding the Super Bowl.”

RBR-TVBR observation: There are so many products out there that have deleterious effects of one sort or another. Cars get us from place to place, but get into accidents. Television sets bring us vital news, but eat electricity and discourage children from exercising or reading. Many foods are healthful in moderation and dangerous in excess. Some toys and children’s programs are pleasurable but lack educational value.

What should companies be allowed to advertise and what not?

Do people grab a beer because they saw an ad, or do they just grab a beer regardless, perhaps selecting a particular brand because of an ad? By the same token, do people grab a hamburger because they saw an ad, or is it because they want a hamburger, with the ad merely influencing where they go to get it?

These are not easy questions to answer – and lacking a definitive answer, we think that adherence as much as possible to the First Amendment is the starting point of the debate, with a very high hurdle before those who would restrict speech concerning the marketing and promotion of a legal product.

The word “legal” puts alcohol into a gray area, since its consumption is not legal for everybody, and overconsumption combined with other acts, such as operating a motor vehicle, is also illegal.

So where is the line? Any thoughts?