The billions of dollars that the alcohol industry spends annually is as strong and steady as ever. Some studies indicate there has been a 400 percent increase in alcohol ads over the past four decades. Fortunately, there has not been a 400 percent increase in sales and consumption.
Throughout the year alcohol marketing and advertising are plentiful, but they gradually increase during the holiday season. Maybe advertisements influence the purchase of bottles, boxes or cases of alcoholic beverages that businesses, acquaintances, and friends give as gifts. Have you ever pondered why you gravitate towards certain alcoholic beverages to consume or give as gifts during the holidays?
Most people do not want to think that they are easily influenced. Alcohol is an industry that can afford to spend money on market researchers, psychological studies and advertising companies that can create ads to sway almost anyone.
If you cannot readily explain your gravitation towards alcohol, maybe you have been affected by one of the four major techniques used by alcohol advertisers that target special audiences (Wechsler, 2001). Reportedly, they use the following techniques:
- Bandwagon – Everyone else is drinking. Many people are followers more so than they are leaders. Advertisers know that people want to ‘fit in’ and do what seems to be popular. Most of you probably took your first drink because of peer pressure. Or, because you saw everyone else drinking at a party and jumped on the bandwagon. Think more like an independent individual, so you are less likely to be influenced to jump on bandwagons.
- Testimonial – Celebrities endorse certain brands of alcohol as their drink of choice. A great example of this technique is the late Orson Welles’ endorsement of Paul Masson Wine. See Orson Welles 1978 Paul Masson Wine Commercial by Sean Mc. It is no secret that some celebrities have had struggles with alcoholism, DUI arrests, rehab, and jail. You may want to consider the testimonial endorsement if the celebrity suffered any of the aforementioned consequences. This should make the testimonial technique unappealing.
- Transfer – Great advertising can make a product appear to be something desirable that can convince you to buy that alcohol brand. If you enjoy ice skating on a winter day, the ad to the right would appeal to your senses. You can counter this technique by thinking about the painful injuries you could endure if you attempt to ice skate after consuming liquor.
- Glittering generalities – These ads attempt to add the glitter of something great that will happen when you consume their product. The ad might promise “the good life, home, adventure, escape, excitement and sexual encounters” (Wechsler, 2001). An example of this technique can be seen here Billy Dee- Colt 45 Commercial- 80’s by Green Leaf. Colt 45 targeted Black men by featuring Billy Dee Williams in various commercials. This disturbing commercial seems to promise excitement and sexual encounters. I see darkness, provocative Black women, aggressive black dogs, a powerful black colt, and a confident and dapper Billy Dee Williams. I would love to hear from men who would like to share their thoughts on this commercial.
So, do you think that you have been allured by one of the four major techniques used by alcohol advertisers? The next time you are ready to buy alcohol or have a drink, think about what motivated you to choose that particular brand or alcoholic beverage. Are you acting on your own volition or have you been influenced by an alluring alcohol ad?
Wechsler, R. (2001). Alcohol propaganda: Analyzing and countering alcohol industry advertising. Prevention Tactics, 5(2). Folsom, CA: The EMT Group.