Page last updated: December 3, 2013

In the US, leading brands dominate popular music mentions

Four alcohol brands accounted for more than half of alcohol brand mentions in Billboard’s most popular song lists in 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to a new study from researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study, published online by Substance Use & Misuse and the first to examine the context of specific brand mentions in depth, found that alcohol use was portrayed as overwhelmingly positive, with negative consequences rarely mentioned.

Of the 720 songs examined, 167 mentioned alcohol and 46 mentioned specific alcohol brands. The leading four brands accounted for 51.6% of all alcohol brand mentions. Alcohol mentions were most common in urban songs: rap, hip-hop and R&B – 37.7%, followed by country (21.8%) and pop (14.9%). References to tequila, cognac, vodka and champagne brands were more prevalent in urban music (R&B, hip-hop and rap), while references to whiskey and beer brands were more common in country or pop music. There were no references to alcohol in the rock music examined.

“Given the heavy exposure of youth to popular music, these results suggest popular music may serve as a major source of promotion of alcohol use among youth,” said study co-author David Jernigan, PhD, director of CAMY.

“A small number of alcohol brands and beverages appear to make frequent appearances in popular music,” said Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. “If these exposures are found to influence youth drinking behaviour, then further public health efforts must be focused on youth exposure to alcohol portrayals in popular music.”

Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, Aug. 28, 2013; Aug. 23, 2013, Substance Use & Misuse.


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