Alcohol Ads in Magazines Drop Dramatically

Viewing of ads for alcoholic beverages in magazines by young people age 12-20 fell almost one half (48%) between 2001 and 2008 according to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). That includes viewing by adults age 18, 19 and 20. Viewing by adults age 21 and older fell 29% during the same period.

Alcohol beverage ads have virtually disappeared from magazines with more than 30% readership by adults age 21 and older. It the words of CAMY, it "fell to almost nothing."

Since 2003, the three major alcohol producer trade associations (the Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the Wine Institute) have all voluntarily imposed 30 percent as the maximum permissible under-age-21 readership composition for magazine ad placements.

CAMY points out that in recent years alcohol marketers have gone so far as to place alcohol beverage advertising in special editions of publications for which the "full run" editions have significant youth audiences. These editions of Spin, Vibe, Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Rolling Stone and Jane have typically been sent to qualifying subscribers age 21 and older.

CAMY concludes that alcohol companies have "almost universally" met the rigorous standards they set in 2003 for maximum youth audience composition of magazines in which they would place their advertising.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has earlier commended the alcohol beverage producers for their very high level of compliance with their advertising codes.

Some segments are doing better than others. CAMY found that although youth exposure to distilled alcohol ads fell by 62 percent in national magazines as a whole, it rose by 57% for beer ads.

Alcohol beverage producers also place numerous ads promoting the responsible consumption of their products, including not drinking and driving and discouraging drinking by those under the age of 21. The CAMY study did not examine responsibility ads.


  • Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising in National Magazine, 2001-2008. Baltimore, MD: Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), August 10, 2010.

Readings on Alcohol Advertising

  • AdAge Special Report on leading national advertisers ranked by total advertising spending in the U.S. Advertising Age, June 28, 2004, p. S-2.
  • Bloomberg News, FTC Says Alcohol Type Not Aimed at Minors. Los Angeles Times (June 5, 2002).
  • Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). Overexposed: Youth as a Target of Alcohol Advertising in Magazines. Washington, DC: Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), 2002.
  • Hacker, George, R. Collins and Michael Jacobson. Marketing Booze to Blacks. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1987
  • Connolly, G. M., Casswell, S., Zhang, J-F., and Silva, P. A. Alcohol in the mass media and drinking by adolescents: A longitudinal study. Addiction, 1994, 89, 1255-1263.
  • Federal Trade Commission. Alcohol Marketing and Advertising: A Report to Congress. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission, 2003.
  • Fisher, Joseph C. Advertising, Alcohol Consumption, and Abuse: A Worldwide Survey. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993, p. 150.
  • Jernigan, David. Selling booze to our babies. Albuquerque Tribune Online, 8-28-03. David Jernigan heads the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). The "babies" to whom he refers include adults age 18, 19 and 20.
  • Melillo, W. FTC: Ads for "Alcopops" Not Aimed at Teens, Adweek (June 6, 2002)
  • Nelson, J.P and Young, D.J. Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Advertising Bans: Cumulative Econometric Estimates of Regulatory Effects. Pennsylvania State University and Montana State University, January, 2003
  • Sanders, James. Alcohol Advertisements Do Not Encourage Alcohol Abuse Among Teens. In: Wekesser, Carol (ed.) Alcoholism. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1994. Pp. 132-135, p. 133.
  • Snyder, Susan. Ruling could put alcohol ads back in college newspapers. A federal court overturned a Pa. law that banned paid alcohol ads. Schools and their student papers are assessing the impact. Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4, 2004.

Filed Under: Alcohol Advertising