The average adolescent living in the United States is heavily exposed to alcohol brand references in popular music, according to a new study.
These branded references are most common in hip hop and R&B songs that are often associated with a luxury lifestyle characterized by degrading sexual activity, wealth, partying, violence and drug use, University of Pittsburgh researchers said.
The study analyzed 793 of the most popular songs in the youth market between 2005 and 2007. They found that about 25 percent of the songs that mention alcohol also mentioned brand names. This represented about 2.4 alcohol brand appearances per song-hour, the researchers said.
Since the average pre-teen and teenager is exposed to about 2.5 hours of pop music a day, young people's annual exposure to alcohol brand references in popular music is significant, the researchers said in a statement. Such frequent exposure could constitute a form of advertising and could contribute to an early "initiation and maintenance" of substance use among adolescents.
The researchers said that the high amount of alcohol references may have to do with the strong ties between the booze and music industries. For example, Seagram's owned Universal and Polygram between 1995 and 2001. Also, many popular hip hop artists have started their own alcohol brands.
Over the years, many alcohol companies have used rap musicians to hawk their products.
The alcohol industry trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council, has guidelines against marketing alcoholic products to audiences below the legal drinking age. But because rap music is popular among high school students, the researchers said that advertising campaigns that focus on hip hop artists may not be consistent with that guideline.
A full report on the study appears in the online edition of the journal Addiction.
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