Alcohol Advertising and Teenagers: Understanding Marketing Tactics
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Did you know that, on average, American teenagers are exposed to three alcohol ads daily?[1] That amounts to nearly 1,100 ads yearly! While all ads they view may not target them directly, the mere exposure is enough to cause concern. Many times, these ads only depict people having a good time with alcohol, not the detrimental effects underage drinking can have. We’re going to take a closer look at the correlation between alcohol advertising and teenagers drinking alcohol and how teens become easy targets. We’ll also explore how Ember Recovery can help your teen if they have a substance abuse disorder.

How Do Alcohol Advertisers Target Teens?

Social Media

Alcohol advertisers know how to specifically get a teen’s attention to their product and the idea of drinking. Advertisers are heading straight to where teens spend most of their time: social media.

Ads on sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok show people having fun and having plenty of friends while drinking.[2] What teen doesn’t want that? Many teens always want to fit in and have friends. When teens see those ads, they may be tempted to drink to appear that way, too. What these ads don’t show are the dangers that can come along with underage drinking. Rarely do we see the accidents that can happen and the bodily harm underage drinking can cause.

Celebrity Endorsements in Alcohol Advertising and its Influence on Teenagers

It’s no secret that teens look up to many celebrities and want to emulate them. So, a celebrity promoting a product may tempt a teen to try it, too.

Celebrity endorsements for alcohol-related products are nothing new. Some celebrities who have appeared in alcohol-related ads include Cardi B. She can be seen in commercials for an alcohol-infused cream.[3] Snoop Dog promotes his line of wines, while Jay-Z endorses his brand of champagne. Interestingly enough, Jennifer Lopez, who is known not to drink alcohol, came under fire for promoting a company that offers tequila, vodka, and other spirits. These celebrities, and countless others, appear in ads that can influence teens to want to try these types of products.


While teens may not listen to the radio as much as they used to, that hasn’t stopped companies from placing ads. Studies show that young people are exposed to advertisements for beer, distilled spirits, and hard liquor. Many of these ads are placed on stations that young people are known to enjoy, such as pop, urban contemporary, and alternative formats.[4]


Television is also a hot spot for advertisers to target teens. A study in the Journal of Public Health Policy found that youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television has grown faster than adult exposure.[5]

Research indicates that young people typically see 2,000 beer and wine commercials yearly, mostly during sports programming.[6] This is alarming because children can begin to make decisions about alcohol at a young age, which can put them at greater risk for underage drinking.

While there are plenty of ads for specific alcoholic beverages, there are not as many to discourage underage drinking. Statistics show that underage drinkers were 96% more likely to see an advertisement for alcohol than they were to see one showing the dangers of underage drinking.[4]

Alcohol Advertising and Teenagers: The Impact

Alcohol advertisers are spending their dollars wisely because they know teens will react to what they’re seeing, resulting in profits. Statistics show that young people consume 11% of all alcohol in the United States.[7] Various studies prove that advertising leads to more underage drinking.

  • For each additional ad, young people saw that it was above the national median, and they drank 1% more.[8]
  • Young people who saw TV programs, alcohol ads, or in-store displays were more likely to drink than their peers who did not.[4]
  • For each dollar alcohol marketers spend on youth advertising, young people drank 3% more each month.[9]

With statistics like these, what can be done to reduce the impact alcohol advertising has on teens?

Parents and guardians can encourage media literacy so teens can better understand the messages thrown at them. Parents can also talk to their teens about the dangers of underage drinking to prevent them from getting on a dangerous path.

Are You Looking for a Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Program? Contact Ember Recovery

Ember Recovery is here to help teens battle their substance abuse disorders. We offer quality programs that teach teens how to live a sober life and how to function outside of the program once they are done.

When teens are in one of our programs, we help support their challenges, including staying up to date with their academics. Our education program supports teens in continuing their academics while receiving the care they need to get sober. We work with tutors and state-certified teachers to provide students with the help they need.

To learn more about what Ember Recovery has to offer, call us today or reach out to us online.