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Kids Recognize Booze Brands Better Than Snacks

Children know Smirnoff more than Ben and Jerry's, shows a study adding new fuel to the alcohol advertising debate.

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Alcohol brands are already highly familiar
to young eyes. Thinkstock

By Valerie Tejeda

03/15/12

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Children are more familiar with alcohol brands than they are with popular snack brands, according to a new UK study involving over 400 children aged 10 and 11. Each child was asked to determine whether various products were food, soft drinks, or alcoholic beverages by viewing their brand images, logos and TV adverts. More kids recognized Smirnoff vodka and Carlsberg beer as alcoholic drinks (79% in each case) than recognized Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (74%), or popular British brand Mr Kipling Cakes (41%) as food. Naturally, alcohol brand awareness was highest among those kids who had already tried booze. The study, conducted by the UK charity Alcohol Concern, lends support to campaigners for stricter regulations on alcohol advertising. “The drinks industry asserts very strongly that it doesn't aim its advertising at children,” says Mark Leyshon of Alcohol Concern. "However, this new study provides more evidence that alcohol marketing messages are getting through to young people well before they are legally able to buy alcohol.” But Henry Asworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents alcohol producers, believes claims that awareness of alcohol brands causes children to drink, contradict the latest stats, showing a downward trend in children experimenting with alcohol. "The UK has strict rules to prevent alcohol being marketed or sold to children,” he insists. “And these rules are rigorously enforced."

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