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Ofcom and ASA report on Alcohol: Young People drink more brands that are more highly advertised

A study conducted jointly by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reports on the effects of the 2005 revisions to the Advertising Standards Codes for both television and non-broadcast advertising of alcohol. Amongst other objectives, the changes to the Codes were aimed at preventing alcohol advertising having a strong appeal to ‘under 18s’ and, in particular, being associated with youth culture.

The introduction of the new guidelines is not the only thing that has changed since 2005. The amount spent on alcohol advertising has fallen overall by 12%, from £221m in 2005 to £194m in 2006. This was driven by a reduction in television advertising, from £121m in 2005 to £95m in 2006, whilst spending on press, outdoor and radio advertising increased. The change to the licensing laws and debate surrounding this also occurred in this period.

There have been changes in the amount spent on advertising different types of drink; spending on cider has more than doubled, from £10.8m in 2005 to £22.8m in 2006. The amount spent on advertising alcopops has halved, from £15.5m in 2005 to £7.8m in 2006. These changes were also reflected in the amount spent on television advertising and the number of ‘commercial spots’ both aired and seen on television (though the total number of ‘spots’ increased, in spite of the reduction in expenditure).

All those who said that they had had an alcoholic drink in the last six months were asked about what they had drunk. The number who said any kind of beer, alcopop, or cider is given in the table below, for each age group, for both 2005 and 2007.

 

In line with the changes in advertising, the number of cider drinkers increased and the number of alcopops drinkers decreased, in all three age groups.

The participants in this study were also asked whether they could remember any adverts for alcoholic drinks, and for selected adverts, whether they liked them, whether they felt they were aimed at them, and whether they thought the advert make the drink look appealing. The number of adverts remembered fell from 2005 to 2007 for all categories of drink apart from cider. Young people liked the adverts just as much in 2007 as in 2005, and were more likely to agree that they made the drink look appealing. However, they were less likely to say that the adverts were aimed at ‘people like me.’ The researchers commented that it had been more difficult in 2007 to select adverts that seemed likely to appeal to young people.