Case for Change

New Zealand homes are a common place for children to be exposed to alcohol marketing.

Exposure to alcohol advertising, including that in the home, is related to taking up drinking earlier and heavier drinking.

Social media is commonly used by alcohol companies to market their product. Also, many young people post images of themselves drinking and share these with others.

Being exposed to alcohol promotion can lead to alcohol-related harm.

Reducing exposure in our homes

In our homes, children may be bombarded with many different types/forms of alcohol marketing, including:

  • advertising or sponsorship in movies, TV and/or radio
  • alcohol promotion within TV & radio programmes (e.g. music videos, TV programmes, radio shows)
  • alcohol marketing and images of drinking behaviour on social media
  • alcohol products and alcohol-branded merchandise that are owned by family members, friends.

Impact of advertising on adolescent drinking

A study in the United States24 found that earlier drinking and progression to binge drinking were related to:

  • high exposure to alcohol marketing in movies
  • possession of alcohol-branded merchandise in homes
  • age and rebelliousness.

In addition to the above, the study also found that availability of alcohol in the home as well as parental drinking predicted earlier onset of drinking but not progression to binge drinking.24

Exposure of alcohol advertising on social media

The introduction of digital technologies has opened up new platforms for marketing and promotion.

Alcohol companies aggressively use these new digital platforms, in particular social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and user-generated content.

In 2011, two major alcohol companies announced their plan to increase their digital spend on social media. Bacardi planned to shift up to 90% of its digital spend to Facebook and Diageo expressed their multi-million dollar partnership with Facebook.30

By 2012, alcohol brands had the highest engagement rate on Facebook.26  Worldwide in 2012, there were 1,017 company-sponsored alcohol-brand related sites on Facebook.27 In Australia, the top 20 alcohol brands had more than 2.5 million followers on their Facebook pages.28  Hosts of these pages generated more than 4,500 items of content where followers interacted with them by liking, sharing or commenting on them for more them 2.3 million times.28

Young adults are highly active on social media, engaging with their friends or socialising. As such, exposure of alcohol advertising on social media can encourage alcohol consumption.29 Moreover, Facebook or other social media platform provides marketers with access to the profile data of users who like pages. These types of techniques seek to embed alcohol-branded activities in the daily lives of site fans and followers making it become an intrinsic element of daily norms.30

Alcohol-content, presented as visual images and or textual content, along with positive peer reactions to the posts results in showcasing of inappropriate alcohol use in a positive light.30

Posting alcohol-related content on personal social media accounts is linked to adverse alcohol-related outcomes such as higher alcohol use, craving and also alcohol-related harms. Those who are exposed to alcohol-related content on social media (e.g. posts shared by or liked by their friends in their social network) have been associated with adverse alcohol outcomes.31

The above information provides a general overview of the effect of alcohol marketing on social media; please check out the policy brief developed by the Massey University.

Read the Social Media Policy Brief by Massey University

Click here to go to the Reference list