Background: Youth exposure to alcohol marketing has been shown to be an important contributor to the problem of underage drinking in the U.S. More work is needed on identifying and minimizing content with particular appeal to youth.
Design and Methods: We tested the association between the youth-appeal of marketing content of televised alcohol advertisements and the brand-specific alcohol consumption of both underage youth and adults. We used existing data from three sources: a brand-specific alcohol consumption survey among underage youth (N=1032), a brand-specific alcohol consumption survey among adults (N ~13,000), and an analysis of content appealing to youth (CAY) in a sample of televised alcohol advertisements (n=96) aired during the youth survey. The association between CAY scores for the 96 alcohol ads and youth (age 13-20) versus adult (age 21+) consumption of those ads’ brands was tested through bivariate and multivariate models.
Results: Brand CAY scores were (a) positively associated with brand-specific youth consumption after controlling for adult brand consumption; (b) positively associated with a ratio of youth-toadult brand-specific consumption; and (c) not associated with adult brand consumption.
Conclusions: Alcohol brands with youth-appealing advertising are consumed more often by youth than adults, indicating that these ads may be more persuasive to relatively younger audiences, and that youth are not simply mirroring adult consumption patterns in their choice of brands. Future research should consider the content of alcohol advertising when testing marketing effects on youth drinking, and surveillance efforts might focus on brands popular among youth.