Reducing harm caused by alcohol


10 year olds more familiar with beer brands than biscuits

Campaigners are calling for stricter alcohol marketing regulations to protect children and young people after research found 95% of 10 and 11 year olds recognised a beer brand; higher than their recognition of leading brands of biscuits, crisps and ice cream.

The survey – which asked children about their recognition of alcohol and snack brand names/logos, alcohol sponsorship of football, their TV viewing and social media use, and whether they had tried alcohol – also found children as young as 10 (particularly boys) associated beer brands with the football teams and tournaments they sponsor.

Key findings in Scotland:

•    Brand recognition of Foster’s lager was particularly high (95%), ranking above McVitie’s, McCoy’s and Ben & Jerry’s.
•    Around four in five (79%) recognised the Foster’s characters “Brad and Dan” from the TV commercial.
•    More than three quarters recognised Smirnoff (79%) and two thirds recognised WKD (66%).
•    Over half of the children (55%) associated Carling with football.
•    Children who use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had greater recall of alcohol brands and were more likely to have consumed alcohol themselves.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alcohol Concern, Balance North East and Drink Wise say the findings are more evidence that the current codes are inadequate and are failing to prevent under 18s from absorbing alcohol marketing messages on TV, online and in the cinema. They are calling for alcohol advertising to be restricted to factual information in adult press, cinema advertising only to be allowed for 18 certificate films, and the phased removal of alcohol sponsorships. In the longer term, a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship is the only way to protect children from alcohol marketing.

A recent opinion poll shows there is strong public support for better protection for children and young people from alcohol marketing.

Professor Gerard Hastings, Alcohol Focus Scotland board member and founder of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, said:

“This research shows that alcohol marketing is clearly making an impression on our children. Existing evidence shows that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more.

"As the RBS 6 Nations kicks off with Guinness as its ‘official beer’, thousands of children across the UK will once again see alcohol associated with a major sporting event.

"Alcohol companies claim only to advertise their products to adults, but children are consuming the same media and taking in the same pro-alcohol messages as adults. We will be pressing the government to take effective action to make sure children are not regularly exposed to marketing messages for an adult product which causes so much damage to health and society. We know the public share our concerns; more than two thirds agree that alcohol advertising appeals to under 18s, and more than half support restrictions on alcohol companies sponsoring sporting events.”