Liquor Ads On TV Essay

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Liquor Ads on TV
According to Antonia Novello, Surgeon General
of the United States, in SIRS Government Reporter, the principle cause
of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24 are alcohol related car
crashes (1). Doesn’t it make sense that we should concentrate our efforts
into reducing this problem of alcohol abuse? Apparently DISCUS, the Distilled
Spirits Council of the United States, doesn’t think so. Worsnop says that
on November 7, 1996, they removed their voluntary ban of hard liquor ads
on television and radio that had been in affect since 1936 (219). He then
states that the removal came right after Seagram, a liquor company, advertised
for some of their hard liquor on KRIS-TV in CorpusChrist, Texas (219).

This movement is definitely a step in the wrong direction and action should
be taken to reinstate this ban, but this time legally. First of all, the
removal of the ban gave DISCUS a bad reputation. Already the four major
TV networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX) have vowed not to air ads for hard
liquor (Worsnop 219). DISCUS has also lost respect in the field of politics,
especially with numerous congressmen and the President, himself. Worsnop
said “Beer group representatives think DISCUS’ announcement undercut its
credibility in Washington” (219). Bill Clinton referred to the decision
as “simply irresponsible” (qtd in Worsnop 219).

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Secondly, many of these advertisements
for liquor have been said to target teens. However, Seagram’s executive
vice president of marketing strategy, Arthur Shapiro, said that Seagram
had taken “great pains that our advertising doesn’t appeal to or aim at
children” (qtd in Krantz 1). This is not so, according to Katherine Prescott,
who pointed out the use of animals and a graduation theme in Seagram’s
commercial. This seems to associate the use of alcohol with academic success
when the two rarely coexist (Tannert 2). Clinton also expressed his concern
that the ban may cause increased drinking among minors (Facts on File 492
vol 57). Even if teens were not targeted directly in an advertisement,
Froehlich says “Teenagers are three times as likely as adults to respond
to ads…” This is party due to their self-insecurity (Froehlich 1 Novello
in SIRS Researcher 5).

It has been suggested that in order to
reduce teen response to advertisements, counter-advertising should be used.

This is when advertisements are shown that discourage illegal or abusive
use or products. Research projects showed that while advertising increased
consumption, counter-advertising had a successful, opposite affect (Saffer
4). While this sounds like a good idea, why would a company counter-advertise
a product they are trying to sell? It would be just the same to not advertise
in the first place and save a lot of money.

Many believe that while ads do cause product
use, they merely persuade people to change to a specific brand. However,
in a survey of 534 teens, “the percentage of teens who said the ads make
smoking and drinking more appealing was greater than the percentage who
said ads make then want the product.” Teens who had at least five drinks
in a row during the two weeks prior to the survey taken consisted of 16%
of 8th graders, 25% of 10th graders and 30% of 12th graders (Horovitz and
Wells 3-5). These ads are clearly having an affect on young adults, and
even the teens, themselves, have no doubt they are the primary target of
most beer and liquor ads (Horovitz and Wells 3).

Another argument made by distilled spirits
advocates is that their industry should be treated just like the beer and
wine industry because “alcohol is alcohol” (Krantz 1). While alcohol may
very well be alcohol, it does come in different amounts. Most liquors have
much more concentrated amounts of alcohol than beers and wines do. Distilled
spirits companies have also complained that their business has declined
because they were unable to advertise while beer and wine companies were
allowed to advertise. Beer sales have nearly doubled since the 1960’s,
while liquor sales have declined 29% since 1980 (Coming to a TV Screen
1). Even though the distilled spirits industry has been obviously hurt
by their inability to advertise, it doesn’t mean to say they should reduce
their morals to the level of beer and wine companies. Rather than removing
their own ban and using the beer and wine industry as an excuse, DISCUS
should lobby for a ban on wine and beer to produce an equal mark! et in
that way. This would allow all three industries to save from not having
to worry about competition in the advertising field. . It’s time to turn
around and get moving back in the right direction. DISCUS should stop acting
irresponsibly and reinstate their voluntary ban to prevent legal enforcement
and embarrassment. We need to be aware and concerned about what kinds of
advertisements are displayed on television. And as Norman Douglas once
said “You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements” (724).


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