A Misleading Report on Alcohol Advertising and Youth

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) has issued a report on alcohol advertising titled “Risky Messages in Alcohol Advertising, 2003-2007: Results from Content Analysis.”

Unfortunately, the report is subjective, biased and misleading. It is supposedly a study of youth-oriented magazines. Those would presumably be magazines with at least half or more of their readers being young. The authors don’t even study magazines with only 40%, 30%, or 20% youthful readers. They examine those with only 15% or more young readers. That’s about one of every eight readers being young.

Such magazines can’t reasonably be considered youth-oriented, but the authors have to set the bar very low because otherwise they would have nothing at all to report. They even include some magazines that, in their own words, they “suspect” may have only 15% or more youthful readers! This isn’t research but guesswork.

It is the two authors alone, without any outside input, who decide which ads supposedly promote drinking alcohol with risky behaviors, promote addiction, are sexual in nature, and so on. This clearly isn’t objective research.

In the authors’ view, an ad showing adults at a park bench enjoying lunch with an alcoholic drink promotes risky drinking if a river can be seen in the background; an ad showing a woman holding a over-sized bottle of alcohol is promoting addiction, as is one describing a particular brand of alcohol beverage as “irresistible.” And the authors’ views about what constitutes the use of sex to sell alcohol appears to be grounded in Puritanism rather than in any objective analysis.

The authors admit that they first looked at the ads to decide how to categorize them, then proceeded to categorized them. This is like hiding Easter eggs around the yard and then going back to “discover” that Easter eggs have been hidden around the yard. Some so-called “research.”

Learn more about
Alcohol Advertising.

The authors’ hand-wringing and urgent calls for the government to impose even more and stricter laws and regulations are not justified. Federal statistics show that the proportions of people under 21 who drink, binge drink, or who die in alcohol-related traffic accidents have all dropped to historic lows.

It’s distressing that in a time of severe budgetary crisis, the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth $4,000,000 with which it produces such deceptive reports to influence legislation.

Members of Congress need to make sure that no more tax money is wasted on the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth and its politically-oriented reports.

To learn more about CAMY, its continual waste of our tax money, and its history of churning out unscientific and biased reports to influence public policy, visit Center for Alcohol and Youth: Its Objectives and Methods.


  • Jernigan, David. Under the Influence. Huffington Post, August 20, 2012. Available at huffingtonpost.com/david-jernigan-phd/under-the-influence_1_b_1813582.html
  • Rhoades, E. and Jernigan, David. “Risky Messages in Alcohol Advertising, 2003-2007: Results from Content Analysis” (2012).
  • Alcohol Advertising Standards Violations Most Common in Magazines with Youthful Audiences: First Study to Examine the Relationship of Risky Content in Alcohol Ads to Youth Exposure. Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth press release, August 8, 2012.

Filed Under: Advertising

This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about any subject.
For more fine print, read the disclaimer.