Alcohol marketing in popular movies doubles in past two decades
PAS Meeting Updates
SAN FRANCISCO – Alcohol brand placements in popular movies of all ratings nearly doubled
during the past two decades, new research shows, but particularly in child-rated movies.
Researchers presenting these findings at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting
in San Francisco found the alcohol brands on the movie set are often those young people
report drinking the most.
“Children and young people look to movie stars as role models.” said James D. Sargent,
MD, FAAP, a professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Community & Family Medicine
at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and an author of the study. “For alcohol
companies, when a favorite star uses a certain brand of alcohol, that brand gets linked
to all the characteristics young admirers see in their movie idol. That’s why it’s
no surprise that the brands commonly shown in movies are the most highly advertised
brands, and the same brands underage drinkers tend to drink,” he said.
The abstract, “Trends in alcohol brand placements in top U.S. Movies, 1996-2015,”
will be presented on Tuesday, May 9, at the Moscone Center West Convention Center.
Looking at the top 100 movies with the highest U.S. box-office gross revenues each
year during the two-decade study period, the researchers determined that alcohol brand
placement increased annually by an average of 5% each year, and 92% overall. Other
Alcohol use was portrayed in 87% (1,741) of all movies, overall. Specific brands of
alcohol appeared in 44% (867) of them.
Characters were shown drinking alcohol in 85% (1,108) of all top movies rated for
children during the study period.
Alcohol brands appeared in 41% (533) of child-rated movies during the study period.
“Alcohol continues to be the drug of choice among young people,” says co-author Samantha
Cukier, Ph.D., M.B.A., one that is responsible for 4,300 deaths in the U.S. each year
among people under the age of 21. “This research suggests exposure to alcohol marketing
increases in movies each year, which is concerning because movie alcohol exposure
has been repeatedly shown to predict future alcohol use and higher rates of problem
drinking,” she said.
Dr. Cukier said the findings also have policy implications.
“The high frequency of brand placements in movies aimed at children and young adolescents
raises questions about the adequacy of alcohol marketing self-regulation,” she said.
“I don’t think they are doing enough to avoid the underage segment in their movie
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