European Commission publishes Ecorys report on the exposure of minors to alcohol advertising

On 4 March 2016, the European Commission (DG Connect) published the final report of the study on the exposure of minors to alcohol advertising on linear and non-linear audio-visual media services and other online services, including a content analysis. The research was conducted by the consortium partners Ecorys and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in close collaboration with the following subcontractors: CentERdata, GfK Belgium and individual experts in the field (Prof. Peter Anderson and Prof. David Jernigan).

Approach
In 2012, the report on the application of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) indicated that further investigations were necessary to assess the exposure of minors (<18) to commercial communications for alcoholic beverages. This study investigates this exposure on linear (TV) and non-linear (on-demand) audio-visual (AV) media services and other online services in the European Union (EU).

The study answered three research questions:

  1. How much alcohol advertising does an average minor  watching linear audio-visual media services (i.e. television broadcasting) in the European Union (EU) see?
  2. How much alcohol advertising does an average minor see on non-linear audio-visual media services (i.e. on-demand audio-visual media services) and other online services in the EU?
  3. For audio-visual media services (both linear and non-linear) and other online services, what type of alcohol advertising does an average minor see in the EU? Are minors specifically targeted by alcohol advertising? In how far is alcohol advertising appealing to minors and how? In particular, in how far do the provisions of the AVMSD and their application afford the required level of protection?

As part of this study, a stakeholder review was organised to get feedback from key stakeholders on the preliminary findings.

Findings
The study found that approximately 7.3% of the total number of alcohol impacts on linear AV media services in 2013 were seen by minors. In absolute terms this means that, on average, a minor saw 200 alcohol impacts, while an adult saw over 450. Online services and alcohol industry try to ensure minimal exposure through the implementation of measures and self-regulation, however, minors surveyed perceived a substantial level of exposure, while self-reported exposure increased with age and online activity. The study also found that the most common themes employed in alcohol advertisements include the association of alcohol with sociability and the depiction of drinking with humorous tones. Respectively, 87% and 63% of 90 analysed TV advertisements and 33 online alcohol advertisements contained at least one element that can be considered appealing to minors. In addition, we found that 25% of the analysed advertisements reflect at least one of the criteria described in the AVMSD. 

More information
Kim Weistra
Project coordinator
T +31 (0)10 453 85 13
E kim.weistra@ecorys.com