Aims: To test whether exposure to party-related alcohol advertising is associated with drinking behavior in a national US sample of adolescents and young adults, independently of exposure to other alcohol advertising.
Design: Longitudinal telephone- and web-based surveys conducted in 2011 and 2013.
Setting: All regions of the United States, participants selected via mixed-mode random-digit-dial landline and cellphone frames.
Participants: A sample of 705 respondents who never had a whole drink of alcohol at baseline (mean age 16.9 years, 53.3% female) and a sample of 1036 who never had six or more drinks during one drinking occasion (mean age 17.4 years, 55.8% female).
Measurements: Outcome measures were onset of alcohol use and binge drinking during the study interval. Primary predictor was exposure to television alcohol advertising, operationalized as contact frequency and brand recall for 20 randomly selected alcohol advertisements. Independent post-hoc analyses classified all advertisements as 'party' or 'non-party' advertisements. Socio-demographics, sensation-seeking, alcohol expectancies and alcohol use of friends and family were assessed as covariates.
Findings: Onset rates for having the first whole drink of alcohol and for first binge drinking were 49.2% and 29.5%, respectively. On average, approximately half (median = 10.2) of the 20 alcohol advertisements in each individual survey were 'party' advertisements. If both types of exposures ('party' and 'non-party') were included in the regression model, only 'party' exposure remained a significant predictor of alcohol use onset [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 19.17; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.72-98.79] and binge drinking onset (AOR = 3.87; 95% CI = 1.07-13.99) after covariate control.
Conclusions: Adolescents and young adults in the United States appear to have higher rates of alcohol use and binge drinking onset if they have higher exposure to alcohol advertisements using a partying theme, independently of the amount of exposure to alcohol advertisements with non-party themes.
Keywords: Advertising; alcohol; binge drinking; content themes; context effects; specificity.
© 2016 Society for the Study of Addiction.