Reduce exposure in our homes
Parents are important role models in relation to alcohol use. They often have more influence than they realise. To learn more about this, please check out the sub-section on reducing parental supply of alcohol.
Unfortunately, your best efforts to be a good role model are often undermined by your children being heavily exposed to alcohol marketing in the everyday environment.
Alcohol marketing on social media
Young adults are highly active on social media and digital media, engaging with their friends or socialising through a variety of digital platforms.
As such, reducing exposure to alcohol marketing on social and digital media is crucial.
Unfortunately, the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship made no specific recommendations in relation to restricting alcohol marketing in social media, and there has not yet been a government response to the recommendations that were made. To reduce harm from alcohol advertising on social and digital marketing platforms, we will need both national laws and global agreements, as the social media platforms and their alcohol industry partners are often multi-nationals operating across international borders.
Check out the current policies on alcohol advertising within the some of the more popular social media platforms:
- Facebook, please click here. Facebook has allowed users to hide alcohol advertising on their accounts. Once you have signed into your account, go to the section on setting. On the left column, click ‘adverts’ and click ‘hide ad topics’. You can select to hide alcohol advertisements for 6 months, one year, or permanently. Please click here for more information.
- Snapchat - Snapchat has localised restrictions around alcohol advertising, with alcohol advertising not permitted in certain countries in line with local laws. All alcohol advertisements must be age targeted to at least 18+ or the minimum drinking/purchase age in the country the advertisement is being delivered to. There are further guidelines regarding content of alcohol advertisements. Please click here to read their policy.
- Instagram - Alcohol brand accounts on Instagram may choose to restrict their content to people over a certain age. However, this appears to be a voluntary rather than automated. Some Instagram influencers may advertise alcohol brands on their accounts and it may not always be obvious that the content is an advertisement or promotion. Influencers who are featuring and advertising alcohol brands may not be restricting access to children and young people. Instagram has a policy restricting certain content (including alcohol) over a certain age, please click here.
Celebrities, sports people and others who children and young people look up to and idolise have built up large followings on various social media platforms, and often appear in promotional postings either on their own accounts, other influencer accounts, or the accounts of brands and events. In 2019, two high profile All Blacks took part in a promotion for an alcohol brand at a sporting event, the images being well covered by news but also on the events social media accounts, and the social media accounts of the two All Blacks. This was found to be in breach of advertising standards, and the social media posts were removed. Celebrities and sporting heroes often have large social media audiences that include large numbers of children and young people. When they advertise and promote alcohol, they circumvent voluntary controls such as age-gating that alcohol brand accounts may have in place. Further, alcohol advertisements with social media influencers are not often labelled as advertisements.
Aside from influencers and brands, social media platforms also enable people to share their own alcohol content with peers and friends, becoming unofficial ambassadors for alcohol brands and venues. The social media platforms and alcohol companies are well aware of this and have engineered their platforms, algorithms, and marketing strategies to new levels of sophistication.
Alcohol media literacy and young people
One thing that may protect children and young people who are exposed to alcohol marketing, is for parents and their children to be critically aware and literate when it comes to their media and advertising environment. Internal alcohol industry documents have confirmed that they are targeting young people. In the absence of effective statutory regulations, parents and children can benefit from discussing the media, advertising and branding that they encounter.
Parents, children, and young people should question, evaluate, analyse, and attempt to understand the motivations behind media communications, messages, and marketing. This can help people to assess the quality and authenticity of what they are seeing. For more information on alcohol media literacy, this blog, and this systematic review are useful starting points.
Check out the section Take Action to find out how to be more vigilant with regards to online and social media.