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Alcohol marketing and young people

Alcohol marketing has a powerful effect on young people in Australia. While traditional forms of alcohol marketing remain a potent influence among young people, new digital technologies and sophisticated branding techniques have dramatically expanded the variety and volume of promotional activities and advertising practices that young people are being exposed to. This report surveys the key features of contemporary alcohol marketing, reviews the research literature investigating the effects of this marketing on young people, and demonstrates the need for robust policy action.

19 Sep 2012

Alcohol marketing has a powerful effect on young people in Australia. Amid a background of rising community concerns about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, young people in Australia are being exposed to an unprecedented level of alcohol marketing. This report surveys the key features of contemporary alcohol marketing, reviews the research literature investigating the effects of this marketing on young people, and considers the need for new policy responses.

In addition to advertising through television and radio, the growth in online and mobile technologies has fuelled a dramatic increase in the volume and variety of alcohol marketing and promotions. Alcohol companies are aggressively harnessing the marketing potential of Facebook, online video channels, interactive games and mobile phone marketing. This has occurred alongside an increase in product placement in films and music, alcohol-sponsored music and sporting events, alcohol-branded merchandise, and the proliferation of new alcoholic brands and flavours.

These interactive marketing techniques often fly under the radar of regulators, policy makers, public health advocates, and parents. As alcohol marketing increasingly permeates the online and offline activities of young people, a growing body of research has emerged showing that alcohol marketing effects the age at which young people start to drink, and encourages those who are already drinking to consume more. Although these findings have clear implications for public health, the regulatory response in Australia has been inadequate. Alcohol advertising is currently self-regulated in Australia. This regulatory scheme is funded and administered by the alcohol industry, and is voluntary, reactive, limited in scope, and unable to enforce penalties. If we are to develop timely and effective strategies to curb harmful drinking among Australia’s youth, it is imperative we understand the dimensions and implications of contemporary alcohol marketing, and develop more robust regulatory approaches.

National summit on alcohol marketing to young people: COMMUNIQUÉ
In response to the unprecedented volume and variety of alcohol marketing that is reaching young Australians, the AMA and over 70 organisations represented by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol released a communique calling for action on alcohol marketing. The communique emerged out of the National Summit on Alcohol Marketing to Young People, which was held in Parliament House in Canberra on September 19. This Summit was hosted by the AMA and attended by leading public health and non-government organisations, law enforcement bodies, youth associations, and academics and experts in the area of alcohol and marketing. To download the communique, click here.


Published: 19 Sep 2012