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Do beer commercials target teens?

frogs October 21, 1998
Web posted at: 12:47 p.m. EDT (1647 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Advertising researchers say some animated beer commercials -- particularly the Budweiser frogs -- have so much appeal to young people that the ads may be encouraging teens to try alcohol.

"What we found is the more kids like the ads, and as a result, they pay attention to them, the more likely they are to be drinkers and the more often they drink," said Joel Grube, an alcohol advertising researcher.

Grube presented his findings at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in San Francisco. He says more and more studies show a connection between media messages about alcohol and underage drinkers.

The beer industry denies it is marketing products to teens.

"We're very careful not to place any beer advertising where the audience is a majority of people who are under the legal purchase age," said Jeff Becker of the Beer Institute, which is the official trade association for the U.S. brewing industry.

Regardless of what the industry says, children's advocates say the popularity of the ads should be reason enough to take the commercials off the air -- particularly if the industry doesn't intend to influence the young.

"If anything they say about their intent not to create problems with underage drinking, if any of that is true, they should have pulled the (Budweiser frog ads) immediately, and the reasons they didn't pull it is because that population is precisely who they want," said Laurie Leiber of the Center for Alcohol Advertising.

CNN's Don Knapp shows how some ads might appeal to teens
Windows Media 28K 56K

Other advertising analysts say beer commercials in general play into the fantasies of young men.

"This is kind of the bottom line of alcohol advertising. It's the adolescent male fantasy. The beer and the alcohol is the woman. If you'll just drink, you'll get these things," said advertising analyst Peter DeBenedittis. "The reality is, if you drink, you'll be desperate, miserable and lonely."

In his work, DeBenedittis "deconstructs" commercials -- analyzing them frame-by-frame to expose more of the message.

DeBenedittis and other researchers hope that at the very least, kids can be taught to see through advertising's fantasies.

Correspondent Don Knapp contributed to this report.

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