Thursday, May 10, 2012

FTC requires alcohol producers to release information about digital marketing

The Federal Trade Commission has required 14 major alcoholic beverage advertisers to provide information for the agency’s fourth major study on the effectiveness of voluntary industry guidelines for reducing advertising and marketing to underage audiences by beer, wine, and distilled spirits manufacturers.

For the first time, the agency will request information on Internet and digital marketing and data collection practices.  As in previous studies, the FTC also will seek advertising expenditure and placement data, and background information about the advertisers’ business practices.

The marketing landscape has changed dramatically since 2008, the last time the FTC collected this kind of information.  Today there is a much greater emphasis on social media. For example, Bacardi has at least seven Facebook pages, with a total of 1.7 million fans, according to David Jernigan, Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. He notes that Captain Morgan Rum has a video game app for iPhones. Many companies connect with consumers through Twitter.

Jernigan says that outside of regulating “unfair or misleading” advertising, the FTC generally allows the alcohol industry to set its own ad guidelines.  See the April 20 post about how one alcoholic beverage company gets around some of its own guidelines.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a video describing the problem of binge drinking including the increase in youth exposure to alcohol advertising in recent years.

For more information about how the alcoholic beverage industry uses social media, view the CAMY YouTube videos about digital alcohol marketing.

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