Thinking before drinking
Drinking alcohol has become a social norm in probably most countries, and has resulted in various outcomes – for example, crime, accidents, health problems etc; none of which are positive.
In the short span of 2.5 years of studying in Australia, I (and friends close to my heart) have experienced so many situations which resulted from drunk people just losing control – basically the doing of influence of excessive alcohol intake. Just to name a few, we’ve have had drunkards brandishing knives at us, friends getting punched or glassed randomly while walking home, passersby throwing bricks and stones at us, and one even getting raped and pregnant.
It seems all too familiar as there are constant reports of drunken acts all the time, and it also seems that familiarity has nullified the emotional aspect that was once attached to these outcomes. Is it really okay? Is it really acceptable?
The reality is that these things were serious and are serious, and have either an immediate effect or a long-term effect, or both – which is essentially an accumulated effect.
This brings us right back to the very beginning – why is alcohol being promoted so much when it has such devastating effects? Is it because of the huge profit that it brings in? The other question to ponder is – if alcohol is so popular, then what is it about alcohol marketing that is causing it to be so successfully promoted?
The goal of the article by Meier.P was to encourage a rethink of market research priorities in relation to alcohol marketing.
Many researchers and politicians concentrate on the potential harm to young people, and assume that alcohol marketing carries risks for children because they are perceived as cognitively incapable in distinguishing the advert portrayed from real-life experiences. It is true that promotion of alcohol to or in the presence of younger target audience will result in increasing the odds of them having a first trial, but this thinking perhaps need some reconsideration as most alcohol marketing are targeted at existing alcohol consumers. When an alcoholic product is being promoted to consumers, it is either presented to them during drinking experiences, or in between drinking experiences.
When alcohol is being marketed, it always almost seems to have an “optimistic frame”, pointing toward fun, fun and more fun. But with these advertisements, do they display any communication of the negative effects that may follow? If ghastly images of lung/throat cancer can be printed onto cigarette packs to warn consumers (visually) of the health impacts they may face, should alcohol bottles have printed warnings of excessive alcohol intake?
This whole alcohol topic is huge and can be and will be discussed so much more in the future, so it’s a good time to stop and think about it now.
Reference: Meier, P. 2011. Alcohol marketing research: the need for a new agenda. Addiction, 106, 466-471