Vice Squad
Thursday, June 03, 2004
The Frequency of Alcohol Responsibility Ads....

....leaves something to be desired, at least when compared with the number of television ads encouraging alcohol consumption. A recent report from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth indicates that the encouragement-to- responsibility ratio in 2002 was on the order of, uh, 226 to 1. Here are the Key Findings (footnotes omitted), taken from the Executive Summary:
• Alcohol industry "responsibility" advertising declined substantially in 2002 from 2001 levels, at the same time that alcohol product advertising increased significantly. In 2002, alcohol companies placed 289,381 product commercials for alcohol on television and 1,280 responsibility advertisements, compared with 208,909 product advertisements and 2,379 responsibility ads in 2001. In other words, for every one responsibility ad aired in 2002, there were 226 product ads. In 2001, the ratio was 1 to 88. For every dollar spent on responsibility ads in 2002, the industry spent $99 on product ads. In 2001, the ratio was $1 to $35 (see Figure 1 [not included in blog post]).

• Advertising purchased by alcohol producers warning about drunk driving or the legal drinking age accounted for one percent of dollars spent, and less than one half of one percent of ads purchased by alcohol companies on television in 2002.
Vice Squad frequently despairs about the advertising of vice. In general, the traditional vices must be made tolerable to non-indulgers if they hope to remain (or become) legal or to be governed by a reasonably liberal regulatory regime. Advertising excesses are a good way for the purveyors of legal vices to undermine their always tenuous public support.

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