Alcohol Advertising and Young People’s Drinking: by Barrie Gunter; Anders Hansen; Maria Touri

By Barrie Gunter; Anders Hansen; Maria Touri

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Twelve issues of each magazine were analysed in 1978 yielding a total magazine sample of 156 editions. Each magazine was the most popular publication of its type at that time. Coding focused on the physical size and setting of advertisements in the magazines, whether the advertisements featured people and who these people were and a range of themes indicating that alcohol consumption might be associated with wealth, prestige, economic, social or sexual success and so on. A later American study of alcohol advertising in magazines covering major publications between 1997 and 2001 found a tendency for beer and spirits advertising to be more frequently occurring in magazines that attracted larger adolescent readerships.

The evidence from this survey indicated that designer drinks or ‘alcopops’ had a strong appeal for individuals at the youngest end of the teenage spectrum before being superseded by other forms of alcoholic drink. In a further report from the same survey, the researchers indicated that drinking was widespread among the 14- and 15-year olds they surveyed, with almost three in four (74%) having tried alcohol and one in six (17%) drinking at least once a week. There were peer group influences and drinking alcohol was driven by a need to be part of the drinking subculture in their age group.

Early twentieth-century movies portrayed intoxication positively in comedic, ‘good time’ scenarios. With the onset of the Second World War, a more sombre tone was adopted in which excessive consumption of alcohol was associated with physical and psychological problems (Rorabaugh, 2003). This trend continued into the 1960s with social commentary films graphically portraying the destructive professional and personal consequences of alcohol abuse (Room, 1989). A decade or so later, there was a shift back to the depiction of alcohol consumption as central to having fun in films such as Animal House and Cocktail.

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