Alcohol Advertisements Exploit Younger Crowds
According to the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), approximately 19 percent of teenagers 12 to 17 years old were reported to be engaged in alcohol abuse last year. As teenagers grow older, they tend to maintain a higher level of alcohol consumption. The survey reports that approximately 32 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 continue alcohol abuse. In fact, this is the most troubled age group having the highest rates of alcohol use, alcohol dependence, and need for treatment. In spite of restrictions, several millions of teenagers and adolescents are interested in drinking alcohol and are able to get alcohol. According to the Federal Trade Commissionís survey, alcohol advertising and promotions do not reach, and do not affect teenagers and adolescents. But I contend that younger crowds are reached by alcohol advertisers. Unfortunately, teenagers and adolescents see only the obvious side of alcohol ads--messages on how drinking alcohol may benefit them. At the same time, alcohol advertisers know that all these messages is nothing but drawing a veil over the exploitative nature of alcohol ads, and advertisers donít care how younger crowds may benefit from drinking, advertisers simply want their money.
Roland Barthes, a French philosopher and literary critic, calls advertisements the ìsignsî (47). The sign is a system of signification, which consists of two elements: the ìsignifierî--actual graphical representation that signifies a concept, and the ìsignifiedî--the concept, which is signified by the ìsignifierî (Barthes 115). The author says that, if the ìsignifierî is viewed apart from the concept it utters, the ìsignifierî has no meaning and is nothing more than the meaningless empty form. Thus, the ìsignifierî endowed with some meaning can be easily emptied and replenished again with an absolutely new concept or meaning. The same product can have a set of different ads targeting different audiences. Alcohol advertisers, for example, tap into the rebellious side of teenagers and adolescents, into their need for individual identities. Here, we witness an emotional appeal--one of the most powerful and secret tools of the mass exploitation.
It is fairly easy for alcohol advertisers to exploit younger crowds. They often place alcohol ads in the mass media with do have a significant underage audience. For example, Jane magazine targets women in their twenties, which allows the magazine to advertise such restricted products, as alcohol and tobacco. However, Jane Magazine also has a big readership of seventeen or eighteen year old girls. When it comes to editorial contents, the magazine tries to adapt to both adult and adolescent audiences. But Jane claims having no underage readers in order to avoid legal consequences, and as a result, had been able to promote alcohol products. The ads featured contain simplistic messages about the benefits of drinking...