Underage thinking6th November, 2003 by db_staff - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3
They’re the most impressionable when it comes to advertising, but advertisers claim they don’t target them directly. Are they telling the truth? asks Jon Rees
BUDWEISER’S CARTOON frogs are more familiar to US school kids than Tony the Tiger, who has been the "voice" and face of Frosties cereal for decades, and that could spell trouble for the drinks industry.
It is not just in the US that the success of alcohol advertising is beginning to catch the eye of legislators. In Ireland, for instance, traditionally seen as a country with a liberal attitude to drink, researchers have found that teenagers reckon commercials for Guinness and Budweiser were rated more highly than ads for all other consumer products.
Meanwhile, across Europe and, indeed, the entire world, drinks companies have learned the value of sponsoring everything from all-night dance parties, music concerts, club nights and any number of sporting events.
Of course, drinks firms are perfectly entitled to advertise and it is very difficult to prove that advertising alone is responsible for increasing consumption of a product, or even what part advertising may have in fuelling the growth of a particular market.
However, since advertising is the most visible of market stimulants, it is inevitably the first to get noticed by those who are concerned about the effects of drink.
Those effects are becoming more and more marked, as US magazine Newsweek – the same magazine that gave London its briefly held "coolest city on the planet" tag – pointed out in an article headed "Is Europe drinking too much?"
Broadly, European adults are drinking less, even in such countries as France which is often seen as marinated in wine. But Europe’s teenagers are drinking more and more from an even younger age.