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Let’s Talks About Alcohol

May 23, 2017

Product placement of alcohol brands is on the rise, roughly doubling from “140 appearances in the top 100 films in 1996 to 282 appearances in the top 100 films of 2015,” according to new research. The study found that 44 percent of the 2,000 films they looked at featured a specific, existing brand of alcohol.

While I am no prude I think there is a need to be mindful of the messages that are sent about alcohol in film.

It isn’t just adult films that are heavy on the booze. According to the research, 72 percent of PG-rated films and 46 percent of G-rated films surveyed featured alcohol use. While that number appears to have stayed steady over time, again, brand placements nearly doubled within the 20-year period. For instance, in the 2003 film “Elf”—described as a “good-natured family comedy” by the film review website Rotten Tomatoes—Will Ferrell accidentally pours whiskey into his coffee, and then starts the party at work.

“It can really deliver a lot of alcohol images to an underage group,” Sargent says. 

Sargent compares this trend to portrayals of tobacco use in movies. To stop a flood of lawsuits from states and people seeking compensation for illness and death from smoking cigarettes they had been told was safe, America’s largest tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to a settlement that, among other things, put restrictions on funding product placement in movies. In a study last year, Sargent and others found the depiction of smoking and tobacco brands in movies dropped by roughly half in the years following the settlement.

If similar film restrictions were put on the alcohol industry, Sargent says, “I would bet that you would get the same kind of decline with alcohol.” However, this is an unlikely proposition, as there there is no similar flood of lawsuits against alcohol companies, and Sargent says that the public and lawmakers generally tend to view alcohol as less malicious than tobacco.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2017 9:12 PM

    I have taken on the topic of drinking and the Wisconsin Tavern League many times on this blog. Your point is well taken and from my tone about alcohol you could rightly surmise I would find a realignment with how society deals with drinking in a much different light to be much desired. I like you and your comments and do not find them snarky.

  2. May 24, 2017 4:19 AM

    Given your opinion about keeping other less-dangerous substances prohibited for adults, why would you even want booze and cigarettes to be legal in America let alone allowed in our movies? Not trying to be snarky…truly curious as to why you make an exception for these two deadly drugs.

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