Groups urge investigation of alcohol industry's online marketing

Two watchdog groups urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the alcohol industry's online marketing tactics and the impact on underage consumers.

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Berkeley Media Studies Group of the Public Health Institute suggested in a 34-page report that beer and other alcohol suppliers are using today's new technology - social media, in particular - to appeal to youths. From AFP:

The report singled out a number of interactive advertising campaigns by beer and liquor companies it said were being used to "promote their products using methods that appeal to youth."

Among the examples cited in the report were a Heineken campaign involving an online virtual community, Smirnoff and Budweiser's use of video sharing website YouTube to promote viral videos and a free iPhone game from Malibu rum.

The report called the online age filters used by alcohol companies ineffective.

AFP reported that Lisa Hawkins, VP of the US-based trade association Distilled Spirits Council, denied the charges, saying the industry adheres to strict guidelines to ensure they are marketing to adults not youths.

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