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American Academy of Pediatrics calls for crackdown on alcohol product placement

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics have called for greater regulation over alcohol brands marketing techniques after finding a correlation between problem drinking at a young age and use of product and brand placement in popular TV shows.

As reported by Science Daily, for the report titled ‘Alcohol Brand Placement in Television Shows: A Content Coding Analysis and Comparison with Youth Brand Preference’ researchers measured the alcohol-related content, including brand placements, across 10 popular TV programmes

There was an average of more than two alcohol brand placements per show episode, with some shows featuring more than 13 brand placements per episode. Budweiser was found to appear the most in the shows, representing 12 percent of all appearances, followed by Heineken (7 percent) and Dos Equis (6 percent).

Researchers then asked more than 2,600 people aged between 15 and 20 about their viewing habits for these programmes as well as questions around their drinking and their favourite alcohol brands.

The most prominent brands in the TV shows – Budweiser, Heineken and Dos Equis – were also the brands chosen by those surveyed.

Crucially, the study also found that those who reported higher levels of watching TV shows with more prominent brand placement also reported higher levels of problematic drinking behaviour, including binge drinking.

The findings caused lead author Joy Gabrielli, PhD, a clinical child psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at Dartmouth College & Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to question the how honest brands such as Budweiser are being when reporting their media spend to authorities.

"Despite alcohol company reports in a 2012 Federal Trade Commission summary that they pay little for brand placement of their products, highly advertised brands appeared commonly in some TV shows popular with underage youth. This raises the question of whether companies are accurately reporting such payments to government regulators," said Gabrielli.

Gabrielli also said the self-regulation of alcohol brands’ marketing is a “failure of the government" to protect children from alcohol industry marketing.

"Parents should be aware that it is highly likely their children will be exposed to alcohol brand placements if they watch TV shows rated TV-PG or higher, and that this could affect their drinking behavior," she said.

"Given the significant health implications of underage drinking, the Federal Trade Commission needs to place more emphasis on monitoring and limiting alcohol brand placement of alcohol in media.”

Alcohol brands are increasingly targeting a younger demographic, with Heineken this week revealing a global campaign to secure its position within live music and encourage millennials to get out and enjoy music at festivals and gigs.

Budweiser has used a similar tact but was given a slap on the wrists recently for a campaign that regulators said promoted underage drinking.

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