I had an interesting question this week – asking why beer companies won’t advertise on radio stations with younger demographics. Was it a law or just a marketing decision? What I found is that it is a little of both. While there are no laws specifically prohibiting the advertising of beer on radio stations with younger audiences, the Federal Trade Commission and Congress have been very concerned about all alcohol advertising, especially advertising that appears to encourage under-aged drinking. Thus, to avoid regulation, the Beer Institute has adopted voluntary standards that require its members to advertise only on radio stations which have an audience that is at least 70% comprised of those older than the legal drinking age.
The FTC has periodically issued reports on advertising for alcoholic beverages, the last report having been issued in 2003. Appendix D to that report contains the Beer Institute guidelines. As set forth in those guidelines, the industry looks to audience demographics, by daypart, in deciding whether or not its members should buy time on a particular station. If the Arbitron or similar ratings data shows 30% or more of a station’s audience in a given daypart is under 21, then there will be no advertising in that daypart on the station.