22 March 2022 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: France's Evin law limits the content of alcohol advertising to purely factual product information. Little research to date has examined the effectiveness of this measure. To address this gap, we investigated the effect on young people of (a) content restrictions in general, (b) more or less strict content regulations, and (c) whether different youth profiles are more or less susceptible to content regulations.

METHOD: An online experimental survey on 18- to 25-year-olds in France was conducted (n = 2,163). Participants were exposed to three advertising conditions for four alcohol brands: (a) neutral ads with only bottles and logos (in line with Evin law restrictions); (b) contextual ads (partying and sport iconography) without characters; and (c) contextual ads featuring characters. Participants self-reported their reactions on attention, appeal, product, alcohol consumption perception, image benefits, and perceived behavioral impact. Demographics and alcohol use measures were also collected.

RESULTS: For almost all reactions, ads that featured sport or party contexts (with/without characters) generated more positive reactions and more perceived behavioral impact compared with neutral ads. Ads that featured characters had more positive reactions than ads without characters. Women and the youngest segment (18-21 years old) emerged as the most sensitive to contextual ads.

CONCLUSIONS: Regulating alcohol advertising content via strongly prohibitive measures, as per France's Evin law in 1991 or similar measures in other countries, is an effective policy direction for protecting vulnerable young people. This approach should be considered by countries that currently have only partial bans on alcohol advertising placement.

27 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study is to describe the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos.

METHOD: We used inductive thematic analysis to explore the lyrics and visual imagery in 49 UK Top 40 songs and music videos previously found to contain alcohol content and watched by many British adolescents aged between 11 and 18 years and to examine if branded content contravened alcohol industry advertising codes of practice.

RESULTS: The analysis generated three themes. First, alcohol content was associated with sexualised imagery or lyrics and the objectification of women. Second, alcohol was associated with image, lifestyle and sociability. Finally, some videos showed alcohol overtly encouraging excessive drinking and drunkenness, including those containing branding, with no negative consequences to the drinker.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that YouTube music videos promote positive associations with alcohol use. Further, several alcohol companies adopt marketing strategies in the video medium that are entirely inconsistent with their own or others agreed advertising codes of practice. We conclude that, as a harm reduction measure, policies should change to prevent adolescent exposure to the positive promotion of alcohol and alcohol branding in music videos.

27 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Many countries use warnings in an attempt to regulate alcohol consumption. However, there is a lack of conclusive evidence in the research on alcohol warnings to support decision-making on effective health policies. This study explores the effectiveness of two mandatory warnings introduced in France in 1991 and 2007: the first ("Alcohol abuse is harmful") is displayed on advertisements; the second (a pictogram) on bottles. Given that advertising content regulations have been implemented in some countries to reduce the attractiveness of alcohol marketing (e.g., the Evin law in France), this research also aims to explore whether such regulations can improve the effectiveness of warnings.

METHOD: In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 French people aged 15-29. The effectiveness of health warnings was assessed in terms of recall, noticeability, credibility, comprehension, responsiveness and ability to encourage moderate drinking and abstinence during pregnancy. Participants were shown advertisements and bottles that either followed or challenged content regulations. The data was analysed using double manual coding and NVivo software.

RESULTS: While both warnings suffered from a lack of visibility and noticeability due to their size, location, outdatedness and because of competition from marketing design elements, the warning on the advertisement that followed content regulations was most visible. Both warnings were considered to be informationally vague, lacking in credibility and ineffective in terms of making participants feel concerned and influencing consumption habits.

CONCLUSION: Current French warnings are ineffective and require modification. Improvements are suggested regarding the design and content of warnings to help increase their effectiveness.

01 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption is influenced by a complex causal system of interconnected psychological, behavioural, social, economic, legal and environmental factors. These factors are shaped by governments (eg, licensing laws and taxation), by consumers (eg, patterns of alcohol consumption drive demand) and by alcohol industry practices, such as advertising. The marketing and advertising of alcoholic products contributes to an 'alcogenic environment' and is a modifiable influence on alcohol consumption and harm. The public health perspective is that there is sufficient evidence that alcohol advertising influences consumption. The alcohol industry disputes this, asserting that advertising only aims to help consumers choose between brands.

METHODS: We review the evidence from recent systematic reviews, including their theoretical and methodological assumptions, to help understand what conclusions can be drawn about the relationships between alcohol advertising, advertising restrictions and alcohol consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: A wide evidence base needs to be drawn on to provide a system-level overview of the relationship between alcohol advertising, advertising restrictions and consumption. Advertising aims to influence not just consumption, but also to influence awareness, attitudes and social norms; this is because advertising is a system-level intervention with multiple objectives. Given this, assessments of the effects of advertising restrictions which focus only on sales or consumption are insufficient and may be misleading. For this reason, previous systematic reviews, such as the 2014 Cochrane review on advertising restrictions (Siegfried et al) contribute important, but incomplete representations of 'the evidence' needed to inform the public health case for policy decisions on alcohol advertising. We conclude that an unintended consequence of narrow, linear framings of complex system-level issues is that they can produce misleading answers. Systems problems require systems perspectives.

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