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alcohol advertising
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Press Release - 15 April 2005

Research could influence government policy on binge drinking and young people

The power of alcohol advertising to shape the way young people think about drinking is to be investigated by a team of researchers from the Universities of Bath, Birmingham and London.

The team will talk to 70 people aged 18-25 to ask their views on alcohol advertising on TV, radio, magazines and the internet, and if this makes them think they are ‘cool’ by drinking certain brands.

The project is likely to have significant implications for the Government’s Alcohol Strategy as previous research raised concerns by revealing how much young people drink but did not ask them in-depth how they feel about alcohol and particular brands.

The project - entitled Young People and Alcohol - begins this month (April) and will finish in September 2007.

Six researchers, led by Dr Christine Griffin of the University of Bath, will interview young people in three locations: a large Midlands city, and a seaside town and a market town in the West Country. The researchers prefer to keep the locations anonymous.

The team also includes Dr Isabelle Szmigin of the University of Birmingham’s Business School; Dr Chris Hackley, Royal Holloway College, University of London; and Dr Willm Mistral from the Mental Health Research and Development Unit, University of Bath.

“This project will investigate the ways that alcohol advertising might shape young people’s identities, for example by encouraging them to see themselves as cool or attractive, manly or feminine if they drink a particular product or a particular brand,” said Dr Griffin.

“We will analyse a selected sample of current alcohol adverts aimed at young people on TV, radio, magazines and the internet, examining the images and meanings associated with particular drinks.

“Our findings may have a significant impact on the Government’s strategy for reducing binge drinking.”

The research is part of a wider series of 25 projects – called the Identities and Social Action Research Programme – carried out in UK universities to study issues of identity in modern Britain and abroad. The £4 million programme, launched yesterday (Thursday April 14), is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the projects range from the regeneration of coalfields in Durham to a study of street children in Mexico.

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