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An audit of alcohol brand websites

Authors

  • ROSS GORDON

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Social Marketing, the Open University and the University of Stirling. The Open University, Open University Business School, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK
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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

  • Ross Gordon BA (Honours), MSc, Research Associate.

Mr Ross Gordon, Institute for Social Marketing, the Open University Business School, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1908 332 764; Fax: +44 (0) 1908 655 898; E-mail: r.gordon@open.ac.uk

Abstract

Introduction and Aims.The study investigated the nature and content of alcohol brand websites in the UK.

Design and Methods.The research involved an audit of the websites of the 10 leading alcohol brands by sales in the UK across four categories: lager, spirits, Flavoured Alcoholic Beverages and cider/perry. Each site was visited twice over a 1-month period with site features and content recorded using a pro-forma. The content of websites was then reviewed against the regulatory codes governing broadcast advertising of alcohol.

Results.It was found that 27 of 40 leading alcohol brands had a dedicated website. Sites featured sophisticated content, including sports and music sections, games, downloads and competitions. Case studies of two brand websites demonstrate the range of content features on such sites. A review of the application of regulatory codes covering traditional advertising found some content may breach the codes.

Discussion and Conclusions.Study findings illustrate the sophisticated range of content accessible on alcohol brand websites. When applying regulatory codes covering traditional alcohol marketing channels it is apparent that some content on alcohol brand websites would breach the codes. This suggests the regulation of alcohol brand websites may be an issue requiring attention from policymakers. Further research in this area would help inform this process.[Gordon R. An audit of alcohol brand websites. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010;30:638–644]

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