Alcohol and Advertising

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‘Alcohol and advertising’

Word count: 1097

Alcohol consumption has increased rapidly in the UK. There are many factors, such as peer pressure, parents and advertising that can influence individuals to use alcohol; alcohol advertising can be the principal factor. It is estimated that annually about £800 million is spent to advertise and promote alcohol products. It is considerably more than amount of money that is spend on health advertising and promoting (Hasting and Angus, 2009, p.14). Alcohol advertising can be seen everywhere; it is not only confined to print and broadcasting media, but also permeated in sporting and cultural events. This project will examine the role of media in increasing alcohol consumption in the UK. First, the problems of alcohol advertising will be addressed. Then, the range of solutions will be suggested. In the final part, the solutions will be evaluated, and identified those are more likely to succeed.

Numerous problems may result from alcohol advertising. Anderson (2009) states that advertising inculcates individuals that drinking is common among peers, they should drink to be a part of society, they will have a greater social approval if they drink and they should drink more as adults. All of these negative messages may be sent to individuals by films, sponsorship, social networks, websites, print and broadcasting media. Consequently, exposure to alcohol advertising can cause two principal problems. Firstly, teenagers and youths can be familiar with alcohol products at an early age and encouraged to start drinking. In a two-stage cohort study which was fulfilled over 920 adolescents average aged 13 in 2006 and was followed up in 2008, it was found that 47% of those who were not drinkers and involved with alcohol marketing started drinking during these two years (Gordon et al., 2010). Secondly, drinkers may be encouraged to drink more than before. It can be an increase in units of consumption in one time of drinking or frequency of drinking. For all above reasons, the alcohol advertising must be combated as effectively as possible.

There are numerous strategies for alcohol-related problems; one of them can be to ban alcohol advertising completely. All European countries excluding the UK have banned at least one types of advertising (Anderson, 2009, p.121). Banning alcohol advertising can lead to two positive aspects. First, the exposure to alcohol imagery will be reduced. Second, the price of alcohol will be increased. Gunter et al. (2010) state that alcohol advertising causes a competition among companies, and companies to remain in the competition decrease their product price. Therefore, if alcohol advertising is banned, the alcohol price will be increased, and subsequently the alcohol consumption will be reduced.

Another solution can be to prevent the existence of alcohol companies in sporting and cultural events. Alcohol sponsorship may link success of sport to alcohol consumption or show that alcohol drinking is a part of these events. Hence, all these thoughts will be removed if these sponsorships are banished from these events. Furthermore, as regulation, the number of viewers, attendances and contributors aged under 18 should not exceed one-fourth of all participants of an event sponsored by alcohol companies (Leyshon, 2011, p.9). However, alcohol companies sponsor some well-known football clubs, such as Everton, which the majority of their spectators are youths.

Furthermore, programmes of television and cinema, which show alcohol imagery in highly common or as a relief substance, can be controlled. Films can be classified for children, teenagers and adults, and some rules and limitations can be considered. For instance, alcohol imagery can be forbidden in children and adolescents’ programmes. Government can also support film producers to make educational films and programmes, such as the films related to the testimonies of former alcohol addicts, to inform individuals from the risk of alcohol consumption. The chance to being aware and accountable for their own behaviour has been provided to the public by educational campaign (Robinson and Kenyon, 2010, p.73). All of these above solutions may decrease alcohol consumption.

Just extensive prohibitions on all types of alcohol marketing can decrease alcohol consumption (Gunter et al., 2010, p.53). It can deter individuals from better known of alcohol branding. The deviated behaviour messages related to drinking as well as permanent reminders concerning alcohol consumption would be removed by banning alcohol advertising (Gunter et al., 2010, p.51). For example, due to advertising, images of alcohol is reminded in individuals who want to surcease drinking. However, it may damage alcohol industry because each company to promotion needs to marketing. It also should not be ignored that alcohol industry provides more than 1.5 million jobs and contributes about £29 million to the UK’s economy; hence, prohibition of alcohol advertising at all cannot be an appropriate solution (Great Britain. Home Department, 2012).

However, banning alcohol sponsorship in sporting and cultural events can reduce the exposure alcohol among youths. Although alcohol sponsorship may claim that restriction of them can damage stock of sports, further consideration shows the reverse of the assertion. For example, when advertising and sponsorship for tobacco were banned in2005, it was believed that some sports such as formula one and snooker would be damaged. However, both sports have enticed new sponsorship and are considered to be on the increase (Leyshon, 2011, p.19-20). As a result, ban of alcohol companies in sporting and cultural events can be useful.

Presumably, film classification cannot be suitable because of two factors. Firstly, the accessibility of TV gives teenagers chance of watching adults’ programme. Secondly, there have not been harsher penalties for film producers who exceed the regulations. Although there has been British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), alcohol representation is highly common in all favourable British films without regard to BBFC age classification (Lyons et al., 2011, p.1). However, educational films and programmes can be useful. There are many experts and doctors related to alcohol that can warn individuals from risk of alcohol consumption by educational programmes in TV and radio. It can be a reasonable strategy since it does not need much money.

In conclusion, this essay has explained some strategies identified as means of solving problems of alcohol advertising. Ban of advertising, prevention of the existence of alcohol companies as sponsorship in sporting and cultural events, films classification and educational programmes have been suggested as solutions. The solutions have been also evaluated and can now conclude that two have better effects on individuals. First, ban of presence alcohol companies in sports can help that many adolescents do not exposure to alcohol advertising because sports, especially football is counted as a part of their life. Second, enhancing educational programmes and films can inform individuals from consequence of alcohol consumption.

Word count: 1097

List of References

Anderson, P. (2009) ‘Is it time to ban alcohol advertising?’, Clinical Medicine, 9(2), pp.121-124 [Online]. Available at: http://www.clinmed.rcpjournal.org/content/9/2/121.full.pdf+html (Accessed: 24 February 2013).

Gordon, R., MacKintosh, A. M., Moodie, C. (2010) ‘The Impact of Alcohol Marketing on Youth Drinking Behaviour: A Two-stage Cohort Study’, Alcohol and Alcoholism, 45(5), pp. 470-480. [Online] DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/agq047 (accessed: 11 February 2013).

Great Britain. Home Department (2012) The Government’s Alcohol Strategy. The stationery office TSO [online]. Available at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/alcohol-drugs/alcohol/alcohol-strategy?view=Binary (Accessed: 25 January 2013).

Gunter, B., Hansen, A., Touri, M. (2010) Alcohol Advertising and Young People’s Drinking: Representation, Reception and Regulation. BookOS [online]. Available at: http://bookos.org/ (Accessed: 25 January 2013).

Hasting, G., Angus, K. (2009) Under the influence: The damaging effect of alcohol marketing on young people [online]. Available at: http://www.alcohollearningcentre.org.uk/_library/undertheinfluence_tcm41-1900621.pdf (Accessed: 25 January 2013).

Leyshon, M. (2011) An unhealthy mix? Alcohol industry sponsorship of sport and cultural events [online]. Available at: http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/assets/files/Wales%20factsheets/An%20unhealthy%20mix%20-%20final%20version.pdf (Accessed: 3 February 2013).

Lyons, A., McNeill, A., Gilmore, I., Britton, J. (2011) ‘Alcohol imagery and branding, and age classification of films popular in the UK’, International Epidemiological Association, 40(5), pp.1411-1419. [online] DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyr126 (Accessed: 3 February 2013).

Robinson, S, and Kenyon, A. (2009) Ethics in the Alcohol Industry. BookOS [online]. Available at: http://bookos.org/ (Accessed: 25 January 2013).