Alcohol advertising vs addiction

The All Too Powerful Alcohol Advertising Industry

According to a recent article published by Business Insider, all of the major alcohol companies have been steadily increasing their marketing budgets, spending $421 million in a single quarter in 2016 (most recent data available), which represents a 26% increase over the same quarter from the previous year.  This incredible increase over an already substantial budget is very alarming, and represents a trend which is expected to continue as industry sales continue to grow (it is estimated that the marketing budgets will exceed $2 billion in 2018).

This industry spends 89% of its advertising on television ads according to a study conducted by Citigroup, and a typical commercial shows a group of friends enjoying each other’s company, laughing, watching a sporting event, and generally having a great time.  These advertisements paint a very positive – and misleading – picture. These multi million dollar alcohol companies including Anheuser-Busch InBev ($56.4 billion in sales so far this year), Heineken ($24.7 billion in sales so far this year), and Molson Coors Brewing ($10.9 billion in sales so far this year) employ a highly paid team of consumer behaviour psychologists, marketing experts, and statisticians to ensure their marketing efforts are proving to be effective with no regard for individuals suffering from addiction issues.  

Good marketers can sell virtually anything to anyone, and nowhere is this fact more evident than in these advertisements promoting positive and carefree experiences during a time where addiction rehabs are full, overdoses and alcohol related deaths are at an all time high, and new studies are continuously emerging linking alcohol to cancer, depression, anxiety, and many other observable conditions.  

These highly paid marketing experts realize that the most effective way of reaching its target consumer is by playing on the individual’s emotions; these alcohol advertisements are showing that by drinking alcohol, you will be a part of a group, will be accepted by others, will have fun, and will be bold, fulfilled, happy, and content.  Nowhere in these ads does it show the actual statistics, that alcohol is an addictive substance, a literal poison, and that addiction is rampant in the United States and throughout the globe causing incredible strains on society. These advertisements do not make mention of the fact that more than 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone every year (source: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), or that alcohol is directly to blame for over 30% of driving fatalities each year.  These advertisements ignore the fact that alcohol kills nearly 5,000 teenagers every year, which is more than all illegal drugs combined, or that alcohol detox facilities and alcohol rehabilitation centers are seeing a steady increase in patients over the past several years, offering substance abuse treatment to individuals with nowhere else to turn.

Another fundamental issue in the advertising of alcohol is the fact that alcohol consumption is illegal for people under the age of 21, but these advertisements are being consistently viewed by this younger generation who are, very often, impressionable and looking to “grow up” fast and participate in adult activities earlier than ever before.  Younger people are heavy users of television, which is far and away the most prevalent advertising channel utilized by alcohol companies in today’s world. This remains a very serious issue, as these advertisements paint an overly simplistic and often misleading portrait of alcohol use to the younger generation, which negates the potentially serious consequences of drinking.

Back in the 1970s, it was common to see advertisements promoting tobacco, which had a direct impact on the overall use of the product.  In today’s age, tobacco advertising has become much more controlled as society has become more aware of the detrimental effects tobacco has on our health, which has led to an overall shift in consumer perception for this product and in turn has caused substantial declines in its overall use.  Whether or not this trend affects the alcohol industry remains to be seen; alcohol companies in today’s world have extremely deep pockets and deeply rooted political connections, which may slow the wheels of change.

Ebb Tide Treatment Centers

We at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers believe alcoholics and addicts can and do recover. Recovering from active addiction (Substance Abuse Disorder) does not have to be a long, painful process. With the help of Ebb Tide’s caring and experienced staff, you and your loved ones will learn, and take proven steps necessary to achieve success by maintaining lasting sobriety. The goal of Ebb Tide Treatment Centers is to restore lives and families. With our help, you can regain control of your life from addiction and start living happily again. Your new life is just a phone call away. Call us today at 561-508-8330 or visit our website.


Ebb Tide Treatment Center
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West Palm Beach, FL 33410

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