WASHINGTON, DC –  Alcohol advertisements are directed to adults and do not target youth as alleged by critics, according to a comprehensive study published by renowned alcohol researcher Dr. Jon Nelson in the July issue of Contemporary Economic Policy.

The study, which was based on a review of magazine alcohol ad placements from 2001-2003, found that the price of the ad, audience size, and adult demographics significantly affected ad placements, but failed to find support for claims that advertisers target youth.

“[P]olicy makers in the alcohol area would be well advised to turn their attention to discussion of matters of importance for youthful drinking behaviors, rather than decisions made in the market for advertising space,” said Dr. Nelson, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Penn State University, who has researched alcohol advertising issues for more than 20 years.

Nelson’s study also criticized the methodology used by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), a vocal industry critic, and stated that several recent literature reviews failed to prove that alcohol ads cause alcohol consumption.

Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council, commented on the study stating, “The study’s conclusions are consistent with previous analyses by the FTC, which have shown that alcohol advertising is directed to adults.  We remain steadfastly opposed to underage drinking, but as this study confirms, calls to restrict alcohol advertising to prevent this illegal activity are misguided and will do nothing to address the serious issue of underage drinking.”

Cressy said research shows parents are the most influential factors in a youth’s decisions about alcohol.  Further, he stated data from the National Academy of Sciences, the Federal Trade Commission and other institutions show most youth who drink obtain alcohol primarily through non-commercial sources, such as family, friends or other adults over 21.

Cressy noted that since October 1, 2003, the industry has raised the adult demographic guideline in its advertising and marketing Code to 70 percent.  Other updates to the Code since that time include transparency through semi-annual public reports on advertising complaints; post-audits of ad placements; and the establishment of an outside Code advisory board.

The distilled spirits industry’s rigorous approach to self-regulation has been pointed to as a model for other industries by the Federal Trade Commission and has been commended on numerous occasions by regulators and industry watchdogs.


To read the press release on the study issued by Penn State University, go to: http://live.psu.edu/story/18538