The Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) recently conducted a study of the top Billboard hits of the last few years and found that nearly one quarter of them had lyrics containing references to drinking alcohol.
The top genres included hip hop/rap/R&B with 37.7% of songs mentioning alcohol, followed by country at 21.8% and pop songs at 14.9%. The top brands mentioned include Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka, and Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
According to their release, CAMY states that “at least 14 long-term studies have found that exposure to alcohol marketing in the mass media increases the likelihood that young people will start drinking or, if already drinking, drink more. Adolescents in the U.S. spend approximately 2.5 hours per day listening to music.”
Pop culture in general has such an influence over large populations of young people that marketers pay big money to get their products in front of them in every way possible. So when a hit song mentions their brand specifically it can lead to more sales. It’s a product endorsement, and whether or not they are free or paid for may be another question. Often times the payment may come in other forms, such as tour sponsorship or some other exchange of finances.
One of the best ways to combat the alcohol marketing to youth may be simply to make them aware that they are purposely led in a direction. Their rebellious nature can then kick in and reject the advertising so it winds up having the complete opposite effect on both the alcohol beverage company as well as the artist. This is one way to have an early alcohol intervention before a more serious problem can start.