Attack of the Advertisements — Cue the Jaws Theme Song

Kirstie Bakke

One simple statement; today’s youth is bombarded. They are bombarded by images and messages about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. It has become second nature to flip through the channels and see a countless number of commercials for alcohol or strategically placed brand identities. These businesses sponsor our events, our sports teams, our favorite television shows and our idols.

Images of Miller, Budweiser, Coors, etc. flood our brains each and every day without us even giving a second thought about it.  It is bad enough that we are surrounded by these messages and images, but to top it off, these companies are targeting our youth. They use advertisements that highlight humor, popular music, celebrities and the idea that you will have positive consequences from drinking. With this kind of marketing it’s no wonder underage drinking accounts for 11-20 percent of the United States’ alcohol market.

Alcohol use is the number one drug problem among young people in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million young people in the United States between the ages of 12-20 reported drinking in the past month; of those 9.7 million, 6.1 million people reported binge drinking. Every day 4,500 kids under the age of 16 start drinking nationally. In 2010, almost 19% of Spearfish’s population was under the age of 18.

It was fitting to come home from a substance abuse prevention conference and open the local paper to a picture of a group of our youth posing for a picture in front of a wall of alcohol advertisements in a local restaurant/bar. The picture really made me realize how numb our community is to the fact that our youth is completely used to seeing these images and logos.

The purpose of this article is to just bring light to the idea that we as community members, parents, siblings and caring individuals don’t have to stand for this. A simple suggestion from a parent could have lead to that picture being taken outdoors instead of in front of the wall-o-alcohol. Who knows, maybe eventually we can gain enough support from community members to lead to Downtown Friday Nights being sponsored by a non-alcoholic company. The possibilities are endless.

The beginning of this revolution starts with a spark and I’m hoping that’s what this article can do. You are starting a spark just by reading this article and for that I thank you! I encourage you to visit this website to learn more about alcohol marketing and how it is targeting our youth.