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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Liquor advertising: a note from a cynic

Jim Beam recently announced a plan to only advertise in establishments (or publications) where 75% of the audience is above the legal drinking age. This ups the ante on the two liquor trade groups, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the Beer Council, whose benchmark is only 70%.

Of course, neither item is particularly impressive when 70% of the total population is above the legal drinking age. This means that the liquor folks have committed only to advertise to minors relative to their proportion of the population.

Of course, there's an old study (from 1980) that suggests that advertising does little to change overall consumption patterns. Another working paper suggests the same, but notes that making alcohol harder to actually obtain (by increasing prices) could have beneficial social outcomes.

Conclusion: it's a token gesture in a completely useless direction. But it gets you in the papers....

1 comment:

rick said...

You write: "This means that the liquor folks have committed only to advertise to minors relative to their proportion of the population."

This is true, but relevant only if the under-21 crowd reads magazines at the same rate as the over-21s.

If, say, 85% of all magazine readers are over 21, then requiring 70% of-age readership is a weak criteria and should be criticized.

If only 50% of magazine readers are over 21, then 70% is excellent (because a magazine with 70% of-age readership is much higher than average)