Which of the following things are generally true about alcohol advertisements?
- They target men and women in the same way.
- They target our expectations and perceptions about drinking.
- They accurately depict the negative effects from drinking too much.
- None of the above.
Among the choices, the correct one is d. None of the above. In this article, we will explain why this is so.
In the past, one could observe that there were more advertisements for alcohol, as compared to the frequency of commercials nowadays. This is because some countries are regulating how often alcohol advertisements are getting shown as an attempt to discourage the younger generations from engaging in underage drinking.
Government officials from all over the world have long since distinguished the negative implications of alcohol to the human body. They have likewise done other ways to regulate the citizens’ purchasing and intake of alcoholic beverages, such as setting high taxes on such and the aforementioned control on the frequency of their commercials.
Many believe that existing alcohol ads have more often targeted young adults and, consequently, teenagers. In fact, several studies have been conducted to prove the hypothesis on the causation of alcohol commercials on teenagers’ engagement in drinking activities.
Instead of the more traditional television adverts, most companies prefer releasing their ads on social media websites and through other digitized means. This is an understandable move, considering that technology has turned from a privilege into a necessity. Millions of people around the world have access to phones and the internet, which further supports the social media-based marketing strategies companies have opted to use for many years now.
However, among all age groups, the ones who are most vulnerable to this kind of advertisements are teenagers and children. With limited parental supervision on social media sites, they are exposed to commercials for alcohol and other acts meant only for adults. It likewise does not help that other forms of entertainment, such as books, movies, and TV series, integrate underage drinking in some of their story lines. On the bright side, some nations have gone to such lengths to execute legalities that enable them to manage the advertisements being shown on different websites.
While alcohol can either stimulate or tranquilize the individual who drinks it, it is still considered a depressant. Depressants are substances that make the brain’s nerve cells less excited, which in turn disorients the individual in general. Among all the parts of the brain, the hippocampus (or the component that is responsible for all memory functions, as well as for learning tasks. This is particularly harmful to the human body, most especially to the developing brains of younger people and to women who have growing fetuses inside of them.
To people who start drinking during adolescence or their teenage years, they are most likely to develop complications in their brains; they also have a great probability of growing up with (chronic) alcoholic behaviors. For pregnant women who drink alcohol anytime during their pregnancy, their growing babies may develop a condition called Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome, where the child contracts brain damage and physical defects.
Advertisements on Alcohol
No business will be virtually successful if they do not practice proper marketing strategies. These, plus the thorough market research conducted, help them to attain the best profit companies could by appropriating their promotions to their target demographics.
Going back to the question we asked at the beginning of this article, we answered that the fourth choice (d. None of the above) was the correct answer.
Firstly, alcohol advertisements do not target men and women similarly. More often than not, ads for beer and hard liquors are presented for men, while sweeter and more fruity drinks are accepted as more feminine. Moreover, adverts aimed at men show elements of risk-taking, male socialization, excitement, and even sexist messages (where women are overly objectified). Female-oriented ads depict “girls’ night out” situations, where women are having fun while drinking their apparently less potent alcoholic drinks.
For the second point, there is not enough proof that the commercials alcohol companies put out actually target the people’s perceptions and expectations on drinking and what happens when they do it. More realistically, cultures and the social environment of the person affect their view and behaviour when it comes to drinking alcohol.
Third, no advertisement has accurately depicted the negative consequences of alcohol consumption, especially heavy alcohol intake. Alcohol commercials do not show the diseases you can get if you become a chronic alcoholic, nor do they exhibit the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is an understandable move from the companies because releasing bad publicity such as those kinds of adverts will ultimately be their ruin. Instead of alcohol companies doing it, the government, as well as non-government organizations, releases public advisories that educate the citizens on the negative effects of alcohol.
Thus, referring back to Choice D, it is correct that none of the other choices are applicable to existing alcohol advertisements.
The Use of Social Media
In this day and age, social networking sites (SNS) have unarguably become a major facet in many peoples’ lives. SNS have helped people reconnect with one another, form new relationships, and even find opportunities they probably would never have found as easily in real life.
Additionally, we cannot deny the aid SNS has given to businesses of any kind. For numerous companies that sell alcoholic beverages, promotions and partnerships are important to get their names out there, especially if they are not one of the bigger brands people flock towards. Aside from having celebrities represent or promote their products, being the sponsors to many events help propagate their brand to the masses. Organizers and participants could take pictures and videos during the event, then they could post them on their respective social media websites. The posts could gain traction from the mass followings and the companies would get big-time benefits from these.
This kind of stratagem further strengthens the role of SNS in modern-day marketing. Even clips as short as five seconds, when inserted in between Facebook or YouTube videos, are enough to increase brand awareness. Even if the viewers choose the option to “ Skip Ad,” that short exposure still would surely leave a mark, especially if millions of SNS users are shown the same commercials everyday.
The biggest downside to this is that the younger generations are the most exposed to SNS these days. Consequently, they would also be the most exposed to promotions and commercials about alcoholic beverages, most especially if their favorite artists or sports icons happen to be brand ambassadors of particular alcohol products.
The Influence of Alcohol and Its Adverts
Researchers have conducted studies that test the hypothesis of whether or not individuals aged 18 years and below had greater probabilities of drinking alcoholic beverages, after being exposed to advertisements about those drinks. The finished studies concluded that those individuals were, indeed, more likely to drink after seeing the commercials. Likewise, the more they saw the ads, the higher the percentage of them drinking becomes.
Adolescents who are exposed to commercials during music gatherings or sports events are said to be more likely to drink alcohol afterwards. Moreover, they are more likely to drink because they have succumbed to peer pressure, most especially during parties.
As we have mentioned, bodies of adolescents and teenagers are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol than adult human bodies. They are more likely to become chronic alcoholics (or even overdosed), as well as have alcohol-induced diseases. Aside from sickness, there are also more socially dependent consequences, such as DUI, sexual assault, and unwanted pregnancies.
Teens who engage in heavy drinking have a higher risk of being alcohol-dependent when they got older. They are also the ones who are more likely to have psychological (and physical) issues, aside from the financial and educational struggles they may encounter.
Young individuals who have been repeatedly exposed to alcohol advertisements would have severe misconceptions about what really happens when they drink. They would most likely be aware of the relatively positive side of drinking and not of the negative consequences it brings.
Alcohol advertisements have been shown less through traditional means, such as televisions, and more through digital and more modern ways (e.g. social media, website banners). However, these adverts do not target men and women in the same way, nor do they accurately exhibit the negative consequences that might happen when people engage in drinking. Moreover, they do not aim for people’s expectations on drinking.
Social media has undoubtedly become a great necessity in any companies’ marketing strategies. However, among others, younger individuals are more susceptible to being affected by alcohol advertisements seen in this medium, since they are the ones who use it the most. As a result, they are the ones who are more likely to grow up as heavy alcohol consumers. Additionally, their developing bodies are more vulnerable to the toxicity of alcohol. Given these negative effects, governments all over the world have enacted regulations that would discourage underage drinking.