Alcohol Marketing and Advertising: A Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress (September 2003)

The Conferees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees directed the Federal Trade Commission to study the impact on underage consumers of ads for new flavored malt beverages, and whether the beverage alcohol industry has implemented the recommendations contained in the Commission’s 1999 report to Congress regarding alcohol industry self-regulation. This report sets forth the Commission’s findings on these subjects.

The Commission’s investigation of flavored malt beverages (FMBs) indicates that adults appear to be the intended target of FMB marketing, and that the products have established a niche in the adult market. The investigation found no evidence of targeting underage consumers in the FMB market. FMB marketers placed advertisements in conformance with the industry standard that at least 50% of the advertisement’s audience consists of adults age 21 and over. Nevertheless, the 50% placement standard in effect in 2001 and 2002 permitted the ads to reach a substantial youth audience. This is particularly significant where the products and some ad themes may be attractive to minors. Although it is probable that some teens drink FMBs, teen drinking continued to decline during the period when these beverages were being aggressively marketed.