FTC study examines alcohol ads

Elise Franco

The government cares about those alcohol ads college students see on a daily basis.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently compiling questions from the public for a study about alcohol advertising, and is finding that many of the public’s concerns relate to college students.

The FTC’s Alcohol Marketing and Advertising Report to Congress determined that 42.5 percent of college students are below the legal drinking age and susceptible to advertisements found on college campuses and in campus newspapers.

“We are currently doing a study about alcohol advertising, similar to one we did in 1999. To gather information for the study, we are sending requests to beverage advertisers,” said Jackie Dizdul, public affairs officer for the FTC.

Dizdul said part of the process includes asking the public for comments. Based on those comments, the FTC is able to narrow down the scope of questions they will send out to alcohol advertisers.

“During the first round of comments we received 1,299 responses from the public,” she said. “Some were submitted by 48 organizations engaged in advocacy regarding public health such as Consumer Federation of America and the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free Initiative.”

Dizdul said although college campuses are not the only focus of the study, many of the public concerns were geared in that direction.

College sports-related advertising and activities such as spring break promotions are two major topic focuses.

Mike McMahon, senior human movement studies major, said, “I see more ads in the Stater and on campus geared toward bars and drinking than anything else, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.”

He said because it’s a college setting, people should expect to see advertisements focused on getting the legal crowd downtown to the bars.

In order to keep alcohol advertising in check, Lori Cantor, senior business manager, said bar representatives must fully understand all regulations and restrictions about what can and cannot be promoted.

“The bar owners know what’s going on,” she said. “They’re not anxious to tangle with Ohio liquor laws.”

According to the Daily Kent Stater’s advertising rates and data chart for 2006, the newspaper won’t accept ads that encourage substance abuse or emphasizes quantity or frequency of use. Ads may also not associate consumption with operating a motor vehicle or portray alcohol as a solution to a problem or necessary to social, sexual or academic success.

McMahon said friends have more influence about whether an underage student decides to drink, than an ad promoting cheap drinks.

Maria Valentino, senior early childhood education major, agreed.

“The ads aren’t telling them to drink, and they can’t get into the bars anyway, which are what most of the ads are related to.” she said. “If the Stater ran ads for a company like Coors Light then maybe, but I would say most of the pressure to drink comes from your peers.”

Contact general assignment reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].