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YouTube Found To Be Glamorizing Alcohol

According to researchers at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, YouTube music videos may harmfully influence adolescents.

In the study “F*ck It! Let’s Get to Drinking—Poison our Livers!”: a Thematic Analysis of Alcohol Content in Contemporary YouTube MusicVideos, researchers examine and describe the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos.

The study conducted by Cranwell, Britton and Bains is published in Springer’s International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

The new research is an extension of previous work which found that UK teenagers were heavily exposed to images of alcohol and tobacco in YouTube music, effectively glamourising the habits and promoting underage alcohol use and smoking.

Now the researchers have specifically studied the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos.

Method

The researchers used inductive thematic analysis to explore the lyrics and visual imagery in 49 UK Top 40 songs and music videos previously found to contain alcohol content. These videos are watched by many British adolescents aged between 11 and 18 years.

Researchers examined if branded content contravened alcohol industry advertising codes of practice.

Results

The analysis generated three themes.

  1. Alcohol content was associated with sexualised imagery or lyrics and the objectification of women.
  2. Alcohol was associated with image, lifestyle and sociability.
  3. Some videos showed alcohol overtly encouraging excessive alcohol use and intoxication, including those containing branding, with no negative consequences to the alcohol user.

Conclusion

The study results suggest that YouTube music videos promote positive associations with alcohol use.

Further, several alcohol companies adopt marketing strategies in the video medium that are entirely inconsistent with their own or others agreed advertising codes of practice.

The researchers conclude that policies should change to prevent adolescent exposure to the positive promotion of alcohol and alcohol branding in music videos.

The study also highlighted that the overt use of celebrity endorsement or brand ambassadors of alcohol products in music videos appears to contravene voluntary codes of practice. The music artists involved in this direct promotion in the video sample include Robin Thicke, who is described as a ‘brand ambassador’ for Remy Martin, Jay Z, who is a ‘brand ambassador’ for D’USSE and Icona Pop who are the ‘brand face’ of Absolut Tune.

Citation

Cranwell, J., Britton, J. & Bains, M. Int.J. Behav. Med. (2016). doi:10.1007/s12529-016-9578-3

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