Lawsuit Charging Alcohol Ads Target Teens Tossed Out

A class-action suit that alleged alcohol producers were guilty of encouraging underage drinking with their advertising was dismissed by a California Superior Court. The suit, known as the Goodwin case, was defective in many ways, according to the court.

Alcoholic beverage producers currently face similar class-action suits in Colorado, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Ohio. Any case that makes it to trial will face at least two major hurdles.

  1. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has conducted four extensive investigations recently into alcohol advertising and marketing. The investigations have included analyses of internal company documents and communications, product placement in cities across the United States, data presented by alcohol activist groups, and much more. In each case, the FTC found that alcohol ads were directed to adults of legal age to drink.
  2. Research for decades conducted around the world by governments, health agencies, and universities has consistently found that alcohol advertising does not increase alcohol consumption and does not cause non-drinkers to begin drinking. Such advertising is profitable because it can influence brand preference/loyalty and increase market share.

However, the jury disregarded the DNA evidence in the O.J. Simpson trial and acquitted him. A jury could just as easily disregard the scientific evidence in a case alleging the targeting of underage drinkers.

If enough suits are filed a weak jury will eventually be found. That appears to be the strategy of a number of temperance oriented activist groups that actively promote the proliferation of such suits.


  • Levin, Myron. Lawsuit alleging beer ads target teens is tossed out. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2005.