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Keywords:

  • Advertising;
  • Alcohol;
  • Brand;
  • Underage Drinking;
  • Youth

Background

Being able to investigate the relationship between underage drinkers' preferences for particular brands and their exposure to advertising for those brands would represent a significant advance in alcohol marketing research. However, no previous national study has examined the relationship between underage youth exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising and consumption of those brands.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional, Internet-based survey of a national sample of 1,031 youth, ages 13–20, who had consumed at least 1 drink of alcohol in the past 30 days. We ascertained all alcohol brands consumed by respondents in the past 30 days. The main outcome measure was brand-specific consumption during the past 30 days, measured as a dichotomous variable. The main predictor variable was exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising on television. The respondents reported which of 20 television shows popular with youth they had watched during the past 30 days. For each respondent, we calculated a standard measure of potential exposure to the brand-specific alcohol advertising that aired on those shows during the preceding 12 months, based on Nielsen (New York, NY) estimates of the youth audience for each show's telecasts.

Results

Compared to no brand-specific advertising exposure, any exposure was associated with an increased likelihood of brand-specific consumption (adjusted odds ratio 3.02; 95% confidence interval: 2.61–3.49) after controlling for several individual- and brand-level variables. When measured as a continuous variable, the relationship between advertising exposure and brand consumption was nonlinear, with a large association at lower levels of exposure and diminishing incremental effects as the level of exposure increased.

Conclusions

There is a robust relationship between youth's brand-specific exposure to alcohol advertising on television and their consumption of those same alcohol brands during the past 30 days. This study provides further evidence of a strong association between alcohol advertising and youth drinking behavior.