Failure of Self-Regulation in Alcohol Advertising

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Summary of results of report on the failure of self-regulation of alcohol advertising, with a focus on the distilled spirits industry.

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  • Failure of Self-Regulation in Alcohol Advertising

    1. 1. Michele Simon, MPH, JD Research & Policy Director Marin Institute American Public Health Association Annual Meeting November 10, 2009 Why Big Alcohol Can’t Police Itself A Review of Advertising Self-Regulation in the Distilled Spirits Industry (2004-2007)
    2. 2. The Problem <ul><li>The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) relies on self-regulation as the main mechanism to ensure responsible marketing practices by industry. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet no systematic review of the alcohol industry’s oversight process has previously been published, either by government or in the academic literature. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Failure of Self-Regulation <ul><li>Headline from Australia </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol Advertising Self-regulation Not Working  </li></ul><ul><li>“ Addiction scientists are calling for tighter regulation of alcohol advertising, as new research shows that self-regulation by the alcohol industry does not protect impressionable children and youth from exposure.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Science Daily, June 9, 2009) </li></ul>Beer 651.25* Wine 117.84*
    4. 4. Methods <ul><li>Examined 7 DISCUS Code Reports 2004-2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complaints made to DISCUS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decisions made by DISCUS Review Board </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasoning for the decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Analyzed each ad by year, advertising medium, brand, parent company, complainant, alleged violation, decision, conclusion, DISCUS board representation, and DISCUS membership. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Results <ul><li>From 2004 to 2007, DISCUS reported 78 complaints </li></ul><ul><li>AD SPENDING TOPPED $1.9 BILLION DURING PERIOD </li></ul><ul><li>93 individual ads </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Average = 23 ads/year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>43 (46%) were found to violate the Code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>35 (81% of violations) resulted in a change by the advertiser, either by removing the ad, or promising to comply in the future </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Results <ul><li>AD MEDIUM </li></ul>2 Product placement 2 Promotion 2 Combination 4 Unclear 7 TV Commercial 14 Billboard 21 Web 41 Print
    7. 7. Results <ul><li>Worst “repeat offender” brands: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Skyy Vodka (8 complaints) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Svedka Vodka (6 complaints) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worst “repeat offender” companies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diageo (14 complaints) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Campari (11 complaints) </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Results Beer 651.25* <ul><li>The most common complaints by far were about ads with sexual content </li></ul><ul><li>22 complaints alleged that ads overexposed youth </li></ul><ul><li>Complaints by industry members 12.7 times more likely to be found in violation </li></ul>
    9. 9. Results Beer 651.25* <ul><li>34% of complaints were from companies with DISCUS member on board </li></ul><ul><li>Of these, 13% were in violation </li></ul><ul><li>Of the remaining complaints with no board connection, 52% were found in violation </li></ul><ul><li>Complaints regarding ads from companies with a member on the DISCUS board were three times less likely to be found in violation of the Code </li></ul>
    10. 10. Realities About Regulation <ul><li>Barriers to effective self- regulation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of public awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of an independent review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>subjective nature of guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of penalties and enforcement power </li></ul></ul>Beer 651.25* Wine 117.84*
    11. 11. Recommendations <ul><li>A truly independent, third-party review body that includes public interest representatives </li></ul><ul><li>Objective standards for judging the content of advertisements </li></ul><ul><li>Lowering of the current 30% placement standard to 15%, so that ads are placed only in media where no more than 15% of the audience is under 21 </li></ul>
    12. 12. Recommendations <ul><li>A public education campaign about the complaint process, with improved access to filing complaints </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate federal resources and staffing of independent review body and educational campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Enforcement power and significant penalties beyond requests to pull ads, enforceable by federal law or binding industry agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Apply such a system to beer and wine advertising </li></ul>
    13. 13. Realities About Regulation <ul><li>“ No one would seriously suggest that individuals should regulate themselves, that laws against murder, assault, and theft are unnecessary because people are socially responsible.” </li></ul><ul><li>Joel Bakan, The Corporation, 2003 </li></ul>Beer 651.25* Wine 117.84*
    14. 14. Contact Info <ul><li>Michele Simon, JD, MPH </li></ul><ul><li>Research & Policy Director </li></ul><ul><li>Marin Institute – Alcohol Industry Watchdog </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>415/257.2485 (direct line) </li></ul><ul><li>www.MarinInstitute.org </li></ul>Beer 651.25*

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