Research by Alcohol Concern shows that rules governing the amount of alcohol advertising shown before 12A-rated movies are being broken, leading to millions of children being exposed to ads.
The charity investigated alcohol advertising and audience profiles for the 12A-rated Batman: The Dark Knight, released last year.
It found almost half – nine ads out of 19 – of the total advertising loop featured alcohol brands, during showings by cinema sales house Digital Cinema Media (previously Carlton Screen Advertising).
The charity claims this means 810,000 7- to 14-year-olds were exposed to these nine alcohol ads prior to watching the Batman film, with up to a further 590,000 likely to have been exposed.
However, the cinema industry says it has addressed the concerns already.
Kathryn Jacob, president of the Cinema Advertising Association, representing DCM and Pearl & Dean, says: “Regarding the showing of alcohol commercials with the 12A-rated Batman: The Dark Knight, the CAP requirement states that any films carrying alcohol advertising should have an overall audience of no more than 25% of under-18-year-olds. The actual audience achieved by The Dark Knight comprised 21% under-18s, well within the requirements of the CAP Code.
“Nevertheless, due to the increasing concern surrounding excessive alcohol consumption, the CAA instituted a further restriction in August 2008. Since then, no films based on comic books may carry alcohol advertising unless they carry an 18 certificate from the BBFC.”
The research is part of the charity’s response to the review of the Codes of the Committee of Advertising Practice and Committee of Broadcast Advertising Practice.
Last month, as part of the Alcohol Health Alliance, the charity called for a complete ban on price-promotion-based advertising of alcohol, which it claims contributes to increased consumption and “an escalating public health crisis”.