Group Seeks To Curb Promotion Of Alcohol

Posted: September 04, 1992

WASHINGTON — Scenes showing brand-name beer and other alcoholic drinks should be taken out of movies, music videos and television programs aimed at youth, a coalition of health, religious and education groups told the government yesterday.

In a petition to the Federal Trade Commission, the coalition said the alcohol industry should not be allowed to pitch its products to youth while sponsoring sports and musical events. It also objected to its advertisements or the use of brand names in scenes in movies, films and music videos.

The group said the FTC should bar advertisements that link drinking alcohol with driving cars, boating and other activities that can be dangerous or fatal when the person is under the influence of alcohol.

It also gave examples of an advertising practice known as product placement, in which brand name products are clearly visible in films, TV programs or videos.

Stephen Gardner, a law professor and consumer advocate, said the sales pitches had been dropped casually into many programs, videos and movies such as Ghostbusters, My Science Project, Back to School, Splash, Mr. Mom and Gremlins.

The Beer Institute reacted harshly.

"A growing body of research has proven no relationship between alcohol advertising and abuse," it said. While beer advertising expenditures have increased about 50 percent during the last 20 years, per capita consumption has remained about the same, it said.

Jeff Becker, a spokesman for the industry, said the groups were out to ban all beer advertising. Beer brand names were used only to bring reality to programs, he said.

"It is simply trying to be more reflective of what goes on in society. It is not insidious," he said in a telephone interview.

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