So says the latest analysis conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which notes almost one out of 11 alcohol radio ads in 75 markets across the nation in 2009 failed to comply with the industry’s voluntary standard for the placement of advertising.
The report recalls that in 2003, trade groups for beer and distilled spirits (i.e. The Distilled Spirits Council DISCUS) committed to placing alcohol ads in media venues only when underage youth comprise less than or equal to 30% of the audience, since 30% of the audience is 20 years old or younger. However, the CAMY analysis found that 9% of the ads in 75 markets (accounting for almost 50% of radio listeners age 12+) failed to meet the industry standards. These markets represent 46.5% of the U.S. population age 12+. Three brands alone – Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Coors Light – placed more than half of these “violating” ads.
Note that DISCUS in May upped the demographic placement standard in its Code of Responsible Advertising Practices to reflect the 2010 Census data released showing that 71.6% of the U.S. population is 21+. Under the new guideline, beverage alcohol advertising and marketing should be placed in media only where at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be above the legal purchase age (21+). The previous standard was set at 70% that was expected to be above the age of 21+, from 2000 Census data.
The National Research Council, the Institute of Medicine and 24 state attorneys general have called on the alcohol industry to beef up its standard and meet a “proportional” 15% placement standard, given the fact that the group most at risk for underage drinking – 12-20 year-olds – is approximately 15% of the U.S. population.
“A nine percent failure rate for an already weak standard means that a significant number of young people are being overexposed to alcohol advertising on the radio,” said Dr. David Jernigan, CAMY director. “Reducing the voluntary standard to 15% would go a long way to keeping our young people safe and away from the undue influence of alcohol marketing.”
Distilled spirits were the most common type of alcohol advertisement to overexpose youth audiences in PPM markets. In diary markets, where the PPM is not yet in use and where people kept a paper diary of radio listening in 15-minute increments throughout the day, beer and alcopops advertising was most likely to overexpose youth.
In the majority of the 11 markets where Arbitron’s Portable People Meters were deployed for all of 2009, girls ages 12-20 were more likely than boys of the same age to be exposed to advertising for alcopops, distilled spirits, and wine.
• In 2009, youth ages 12-20 were more likely per capita than adults to hear 32% of alcohol advertising placements.
• 15 brands garnered 25% or more of their exposure to youth in at least 10% of markets from advertising not in compliance with the industry’s 30% standard.
RBR-TVBR observation: The 9% failure rate is not all that bad, considering the rapidly-changing demographics this nation is experiencing—including the increasing number of youth, as borne out in the 2010 census. DISCUS promptly adjusted the recommended numbers after the 2010 census came out. Discus now says no ads should be aired when 28.4% of the audience is expected to be below the legal purchase age of 21; The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine want that number to be at 15%. We figure that lower number would pretty much guarantee a 0% failure rate. But don’t expect the industry to jump at it—as well, radio is happy to get alcohol’s ad dollars and considering format flips and additional PPM markets added in 2009, the 9% failure statistic may be a little skewed to begin with.