News In Brief

Report: Video, social media sites used to market alcohol to youth

Daryl Paranada May 18, 2010

When Smirnoff released its Raw Tea line, it promoted the alcoholic beverages with a viral video advertising campaign based on the musical commercial video “Tea Partay,” which you can see below.

That video registered five million YouTube hits. But the problem is that no one knows who watched it. In this story by Jeff Horwich, he says “The alcohol industry’s voluntary rule says 70 percent of people who see your ad have to be legal. But on YouTube, Facebook, and cell phones,” that can’t be measured.

A new report to be released today by the Center for Digital Democracy and Berkeley Media Studies Group of the Public Health Institute suggests that alcohol beverage companies are using new technologies such as online videos and social media to reach and target youth. One of the examples the study cites is Malibu rum offering a free iPhone application allowing users to bowl in a rum shack using Malibu bottles as pins. Another example is Molson Coors and other alcohol beverage companies using the latest social-media monitoring tools to track and target consumers who use sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The group behind the study is urging the Federal Trade Commission to take action.

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