Alcohol Advertising on Social Media: Examining the Content of Popular Alcohol Brands on Instagram

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Substance Use & Misuse






Taylor & Francis Inc.

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Background: There is considerable evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood of adolescents initiating and engaging in alcohol consumption. There is a paucity of research, however, specifically examining industry generated alcohol marketing occurring on social media/networking platforms. Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to analyze the content of promotional advertisements by alcohol brands on Instagram. Methods: For a 30-day period, Instagram profiles of 15 distinct alcohol brands were examined. Pictorial posts/updates from each profile were screen captured and individually documented. Approximately 184 distinct posts constituted our final sample. The Content Appealing to Youth Index was independently employed by two raters to assess each post. For each characteristic, Cohen's Kappa measures, and associated 95% confidence intervals, were calculated. Descriptive statistics were performed. Results: Posts increased throughout the week and peaked on Thursday and Friday. The production value of the posts examined was generally high, frequently featuring color, texture, shine, contrast, faces, and action. Character appeals and use of youth-oriented genres were uncommon. Many of the posts used product appeals and physical benefits to consumption. The posts also emphasized the following rewarding appeal characteristics: positive emotional experiences, achievement, individuality, and camaraderie. The most commonly coded risk-related feature was inappropriate use. Conclusions/Importance: This investigation represents an initial attempt to provide insights into the content alcohol brands are including in their promotional materials on social networking sites.

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