Case for Change

Outdoor (or out-of-home) advertising is another vehicle utilised by alcohol companies to market their products.  This includes billboards, signage, as well as advertising on bus shelters, benches, kiosks, buses, and displays and signage at shopping centres, airports, retailers etc.  

Research suggests youth exposure to outdoor advertising is a predictor of intentions to drink alcohol, and increases the likelihood of drinking larger quantities of alcohol.

Outdoor or out-of-home advertising

Outdoor (or out-of-home) advertising is another vehicle utilised by alcohol companies to market their products. This type of advertising includes:

  • Traditional billboards and signs
  • Location-based promotions - bus shelters, benches, street kiosks, vehicles such as buses;
  • Indoor advertising- digital displays in public places, shopping centres and malls, airports, grocery stores, and commercials before movies.

Looking around your community you will no doubt see a lot of alcohol advertising. Advertisers recognise the value of outdoor advertisements as they can reach a mass audience, including consumers who may not read traditional newspapers or watch mainstream television. They can also reach new generations of drinkers. A United States study reported that alcohol companies can be some of the largest purchasers of outdoor advertising.

In Australia, the proportion of outdoor advertising that is for alcohol products has been steadily increasing, from 21% in 2005 to 36.3% in 2013. In 2008, an Australian study undertaken in Sydney and Wollongong examined the advertising around 40 metropolitan and suburban primary schools. Alcohol advertisements made up 22% (n = 416) of all of the advertising surrounding schools. Alcohol advertising was also much closer to schools (less than 250 metres from a school) than all other products.

A paper by Alcohol Justice summarised findings from different U.S. research studies:

  • In a study conducted in inner city neighbourhoods in ten U.S. cities, billboards (often featured beer products) are the most prevalent form of alcohol advertisements; 
  • Another study found that 25% of outdoor advertising in the area of Central Harlem (New York) was dedicated to alcohol advertising. In many occasions, the advertisements were near schools, churches, and playgrounds in low socio economic areas.
  • A study in Boston assessed the extent of alcohol advertising near subway and public transit stations. Alcohol advertisements in subway and transits reached the equivalent of every adult in the Greater Boston region, every 5th- to 12th-grade public school student, each day. More alcohol ads were displayed in public transit stations in neighbourhoods with high poverty rates than in stations in neighbourhoods with low poverty rates.
  • A US study found that exposure to outdoor alcohol advertising around schools is associated with subsequent youth intentions to use alcohol.

In another study, exposure to outdoor alcohol advertisements among sixth graders (aged 10-12 years) were found to predict subsequent intentions to drink alcohol.

A 2008 systematic review of international evidence found consistent evidence that exposure to outdoor advertising, or advertisements in magazines and newspapers may increase the likelihood of young people starting to drink, the amount they drink, and the amount they drink on any one occasion. A later systematic review of all studies which have followed young people over time found advertising was especially related to drinking larger quantities of alcohol.

Click here to download the above as a factsheet