27 January 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Internet alcohol marketing is not well studied despite its prevalence and potential accessibility and attractiveness to youth. The objective was to examine longitudinal associations between self-reported engagement with Internet alcohol marketing and alcohol use transitions in youth.

METHODS: A US sample of 2012 youths aged 15 to 20 was surveyed in 2011. An Internet alcohol marketing receptivity score was developed, based on number of positive responses to seeing alcohol advertising on the Internet, visiting alcohol brand Web sites, being an online alcohol brand fan, and cued recall of alcohol brand home page images. We assessed the association between baseline marketing receptivity and both ever drinking and binge drinking (>/=6 drinks per occasion) at 1-year follow-up with multiple logistic regression, controlling for baseline drinking status, Internet use, sociodemographics, personality characteristics, and peer or parent drinking.

RESULTS: At baseline, ever-drinking and binge-drinking prevalence was 55% and 27%, respectively. Many (59%) reported seeing Internet alcohol advertising, but few reported going to an alcohol Web site (6%) or being an online fan (3%). Higher Internet use, sensation seeking, having family or peers who drank, and past alcohol use were associated with Internet alcohol marketing receptivity, and a score of 1 or 2 was independently associated with greater adjusted odds of initiating binge drinking (odds ratio 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.78 and odds ratio 2.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-4.37 respectively) but not with initiation of ever drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: Although high levels of engagement with Internet alcohol marketing were uncommon, most underage youths reported seeing it, and we found a prospective association between receptivity to this type of alcohol marketing and future problem drinking, making additional research and ongoing surveillance important.

26 November 2015 In Social and Cultural Aspects

AIMS: Assess whether alcohol companies restrict youth/adolescent access, interaction, and exposure to their marketing on Twitter and Instagram.

METHODS: Employed five fictitious male and female Twitter (n = 10) and Instagram (n = 10) user profiles aged 13, 15, 17, 19 and/or 21. Using cellular smartphones, we determined whether profiles could (a) interact with advertising content-e.g. retweet, view video or picture content, comment, share URL; and/or (b) follow and directly receive advertising material updates from the official Instagram and Twitter pages of 22 alcohol brands for 30 days.

RESULTS: All user profiles could fully access, view, and interact with alcohol industry content posted on Instagram and Twitter. Twitter's age-gate, which restricts access for those under 21, successfully prevented underage profiles from following and subsequently receiving promotional material/updates. The two 21+ profiles collectively received 1836 alcohol-related tweets within 30 days. All Instagram profiles, however, were able to follow all alcohol brand pages and received an average of 362 advertisements within 30 days. The quantity of promotional updates increased throughout the week, reaching their peak on Thursday and Friday. Representatives/controllers of alcohol brand Instagram pages would respond directly to our underage user's comments.

CONCLUSION: The alcohol industry is in violation of their proposed self-regulation guidelines for digital marketing communications on Instagram. While Twitter's age-gate effectively blocked direct to phone updates, unhindered access to post was possible. Everyday our fictitious profiles, even those as young as 13, were bombarded with alcohol industry messages and promotional material directly to their smartphones.

26 November 2015 In Social and Cultural Aspects

AIMS: To examine the association of alcohol-brand social networking pages and Facebook users' drinking attitudes and behaviours.

METHODS: Cross-sectional, self-report data were obtained from a convenience sample of 283 Australian Facebook users aged 16-24 years via an online survey.

RESULTS: More than half of the respondents reported using Facebook for more than an hour daily. While only 20% had actively interacted with an alcohol brand on Facebook, we found a significant association between this active interaction and alcohol consumption, and a strong association between engagement with alcohol brands on Facebook and problematic drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study demonstrate the need for further research into the complex interaction between social networking and alcohol consumption, and add support to calls for effective regulation of alcohol marketing on social network platforms.

26 November 2015 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Marketing is increasingly recognized as a potentially important contributor to youth drinking, yet few studies have examined the relationship between advertising exposure and alcohol consumption among underage youth at the brand level.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between brand-specific exposure to alcohol advertising among underage youth and the consumption prevalence of each brand in a national sample of underage drinkers.

METHODS: We analyzed the relationship between population-level exposure of underage youth ages 12-20 to brand-specific alcohol advertising in national magazines and television programs and the 30-day consumption prevalence - by brand - among a national sample of underage drinkers ages 13-20. Underage youth exposure to alcohol advertising by brand for each month in 2011, measured in gross rating points (GRPs, a standard measure of advertising exposure), was obtained from GfK MRI (a media consumer research company) and Nielsen for all measured national issues of magazines and all national television programs, respectively. The 30-day consumption prevalence for each brand was obtained from a national survey of 1031 underage drinkers conducted between December 2011 and May 2012.

RESULTS: Underage youth were more than five times more likely to consume brands that advertise on national television and 36% more likely to consume brands that advertise in national magazines. The consumption prevalence of a brand increased by 36% for each 1.5 standard deviation (50 GRPs) increase in television adstock among underage youth and by 23% for each 1.5 standard deviation (10 GRPs) increase in magazine adstock.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that alcohol advertising influences an important aspect of drinking behavior - brand choice - among youth who consume alcohol.

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