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Predicting Regulatory Compliance in Beer Advertising on Facebook

30 Aug 2017

ABSTRACTAimsThe prevalence of alcohol advertising has been growing on social media platforms. The purpose of this study was to evaluate alcohol advertising on Facebook for regulatory compliance and thematic content.MethodsA total of 50 Budweiser and Bud Light ads posted on Facebook within 1 month of the 2015 NFL Super Bowl were evaluated for compliance with a self-regulated alcohol advertising code and for thematic content. An exploratory sensitivity/specificity analysis was conducted to determine if thematic content could predict code violations.ResultsThe code violation rate was 82%, with violations prevalent in guidelines prohibiting the association of alcohol with success (Guideline 5) and health benefits (Guideline 3). Overall, 21 thematic content areas were identified. Displaying the product (62%) and adventure/sensation seeking (52%) were the most prevalent. There was perfect specificity (100%) for 10 content areas for detecting any code violation (animals, negative emotions, positive emotions, games/contests/promotions, female characters, minorities, party, sexuality, night-time, sunrise) and high specificity (>80%) for 10 content areas for detecting violations of guidelines intended to protect minors (animals, negative emotions, famous people, friendship, games/contests/promotions, minorities, responsibility messages, sexuality, sunrise, video games).ConclusionsThe high prevalence of code violations indicates a failure of self-regulation to prevent potentially harmful content from appearing in alcohol advertising, including explicit code violations (e.g. sexuality). Routine violations indicate an unwillingness to restrict advertising content for public health purposes, and statutory restrictions may be necessary to sufficiently deter alcohol producers from repeatedly violating marketing codes.Short summaryViolations of a self-regulated alcohol advertising code are prevalent in a sample of beer ads published on Facebook near the US National Football League’s Super Bowl. Overall, 16 thematic content areas demonstrated high specificity for code violations. Alcohol advertising codes should be updated to expressly prohibit the use of such content.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Alcohol and Alcoholism