One key pillar of public health advocates’ attacks on industry marketing: self-regulation is not only suspect on its face (given the industry’s profit motive) but both self-serving and “ineffective.” Those charges received both explicit and implicit support in a pair of new studies (detailed in February issue of Alcohol Issues INSIGHTS).
Just as predictably, Thomas Babor and one of his co-authors of the US study took to the pages of The Conversation for an article later picked up by Huffington Post that charged “alcohol companies used controversial marketing in their 2017 Super Bowl Commercials.” In shades of the 1990s, Babor and his colleague ripped into the return of Spuds Mackenzie for one of AB’s Bud Light ads. They also criticized a Yellow Tail commercial which “prominently featured a humanized kangaroo. . .which was the subject of sexually suggestive language.” They could not resist the comparison to Joe Camel (of course) and considered the ads violations of self-regulatory guidelines (of course).
The authors pointed to a study that concluded “teens who could recall ads with a ‘party’ theme which conveys positive emotions, were four times more likely to binge drink.” In a bizarre twist, they suggested: “That may explain why a Budweiser ad featured the immigration story of Adolphus Busch, associating a positive success story with the product.” Presumably, only negative themes should be allowed in alcohol marketing, if any. The authors also point to their own work (see above), and other articles that appeared as a supplement in Addiction last month. Predictably, they conclude by playing the tobacco card, and offering the same advocacy for further ad restrictions, from a total ban to stricter enforcement and, of course, “ending industry control over the definition of and enforcement of code violations.”