Restrictions drive alcohol ads off TV

Alcoholic drinks companies are shifting advertising spend away from television as a result of tough new restrictions, according to Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). A new report shows that drinks suppliers are spending 26% less on TV ads than they were two years ago despite overall spend across the sector being down just 3%.

The report, which looked at the impact of alcohol advertising on young people following the tightening of advertising codes in October 2005, also found that children and young adults are being exposed to fewer alcohol ads on TV. Between 2002 and 2006, advertising impacts fell by 31% for 16- to 24-year-olds and 39% for 10- to 15-year-olds.

That is supported by the “significant decline” in the proportion of young people saying that they feel alcohol ads are aimed at them.

The research also identified changes in reported drinking behaviour over the last two years. The proportion of 11- to 13-year-olds who have never drunk alcohol has increased from 31% in 2005 to 46% in 2007.

Ofcom’s director of content Kate Stross says: “This issue is of considerable public concern but the research shows that the revised rules on alcohol advertising have ensured that fewer young people feel that TV ads are aimed at them.”

ASA director general Christopher Graham adds: “We will be taking the findings of this report on board when assessing ads against the codes to ensure that young people are protected.”

This week, Marketing Week reported that the Government has given its strongest hint yet that alcohol advertising will come under greater scrutiny in a bid to tackle binge drinking.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo ruled out higher taxation on alcohol but said that advertising will be closely examined.

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