In October 2022, season 2 of ‘The Kardashians’ started to receive press attention due to the amount of branding for Kardashian family-owned businesses in the programme, with many viewers complaining due to the amount of alcohol promotion occurring in the show , particularly in regard to Kendall Jenner’s (one of the family members) tequila brand, ‘818’.
Exposure to alcohol adverts or other content in the media is associated with alcohol initiation and subsequent use by adolescents [1-4] and adults, especially those with or at risk of an alcohol use disorder or those in recovery . Reality TV programmes, which are highly popular with young audiences, are often an effective medium for advertising and promotion to these groups . As Disney+ is popular in the UK, with 23% of homes subscribing , we decided to explore how much content and branding were being shown.
To explore the amount of alcohol content and branding in this programme, myself and two colleagues (Dr Charlotte Scott & Dr Emma Sharpe), viewed all 10 episodes of season 2 of ‘The Kardashians’, which were released to view weekly via the streaming platform Disney+, between September and November 2022. We viewed all episodes and measured alcohol content in every 1-minute period (interval), coding every episode for the presence of alcohol, using established methods [8-11].
Alcohol content was seen across all 10 episodes, with alcohol use occurring in 6 episodes and involving wine/champagne or cocktails. Alcohol branding was only seen in 6 episodes, across 23 intervals, however, the brand 818 tequila, owned by Kendall Jenner, was seen 65 times across 17 intervals.
We found that alcohol content was highly prevalent in Season 2 of The Kardashians. This programme was popular on the Disney+ streaming platform and likely resulted in widespread population exposure. Disney+ have previously announced that they wish to keep their platform family friendly by prohibiting alcohol adverts on the platform . The current study demonstrates that by including the branding within the programme, alcohol brands can receive widespread, international exposure, an example of cross-border marketing . In the UK, Ofcom regulates Disney+  and whilst the Ofcom Broadcasting Code  prohibits paid for alcohol product placement, brands can appear in programmes if they are ‘editorially justified’ and were acquired at no significant cost. We cannot answer these questions, but as the owner of the highly prevalent 818 brand is also a member of the Kardashian family and a part of this show, we share concerns already been raised by viewers of the show, some of whom have questioned whether the series is a ‘press release’ for their businesses . This trend appears to be continuing with the current series 3 of The Kardashians, releasing weekly on Disney+, with episode 1 featuring an 818 launch party and Kendall Jenner regularly being seen in 818 branded clothing.
Kendall Jenner wearing an 818 branded beanie in Season 3 of the show.
It would appear the latest iteration of the programme is being used to promote The Kardashian’s business interests. As this programme is popular with young viewers, and due to the nature of the programme, with its inclusion of inspirational role models , there are likely influences on purchasing and drinking behaviours in young people.
Written by Dr Alex Barker, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Derby.
All IAS Blogposts are published with the permission of the author. The views expressed are solely the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Institute of Alcohol Studies.
A pre-print of this research can be found here; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/371012374_A_content_analysis_of_alcohol_imagery_in_season_2_of_The_Kardashians
1. Anderson, P., et al., Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2009. 44(3): p. 229-243.
2. Smith, L. and D.R. Foxcroft, The effects of alcohol advertising, marketing and portrayal on drinking behaviour in young people: systematic review of prospective cohort studies . BMC Public Health, 2009. 9.
3. Hanewinkel, R., et al., Alcohol consumption in movies and adolescent binge drinking in 6 European countries. Pediatrics, 2012. 129(4): p. 709-720.
4. Chang, F., N. Miao, and C. Lee, The association of media exposure and media literacy with adolescent alcohol and tobacco use. Journal of Health Psychology, 2016. 21: p. 513 – 25.
5. Alcohol Focus Scotland, Realising our rights: How to protect people from alcohol marketing. 2022, Alcohol Focus Scotland: Glasgow.
6. Barker, A.B., et al., Population exposure to smoking and tobacco branding in the UK reality show ‘Love Island’. Tobacco Control, 2018. 27(6).
7. Ofcom. Does Ofcom regulate Netflix? 2022 22/02/23]; Available from: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/news-centre/2022/does-ofcom-regulate-netflix.
8. Barker, A.B., et al., Exposure to tobacco, alcohol and ‘junk food’ content in reality TV programmes broadcast in the UK between August 2019-2020. Journal of Public Health, 2022. fdac046.
9. Barker, A.B., et al., Population exposure to smoking and tobacco branding in the UK reality show ‘Love Island’. Tobacco Control, 2018. 27: p. 709-711.
10. Barker, A.B., et al., Quantifying alcohol audio-visual content in UK broadcasts of the 2018 Formula 1 Championship: a content analysis and population exposure. BMJ Open, 2020. 10: e037035.
11. Barker, A.B., et al., Tobacco and alcohol audio-visual content in Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video original programming. BMJ Open, 2019.
12. Variety. Disney+ Won’t Take Ads for Alcohol, Politics to Keep Venue Family Friendly. 2022 28/03/2023].
13. World Health Organisation, Reducing the harm from alcohol – by regulating cross-border alcohol marketing, advertising and promotion: a technical report. 2022, World Health Organisation: Geneva.
14. Ofcom. The Ofcom Broadcasting Code (with the Cross-promotion Code and the On Demand Programme Service Rules). 2017 22/02/23]; Available from: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code.
15. Buzzfeed. This Is Why “Bored” Viewers Are Giving Up On “The Kardashians” Season 2 After Feeling Like They’re “Watching A Press Release”. 2022 22/02/23]; Available from: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stephaniesoteriou/kardashians-chore-watch-fans-ad-product-placement.