Advertising has been identified as one of the factors that increase the likelihood of alcoholic beverage consumption especially among the youth (Alcohol Concern, 2013). Through the use of advertising execution techniques such as humour, celebrity endorsement and music, advertisers are able to embed images that resonate with vulnerable youths. In spite of the documented social and health repercussions of alcohol consumption and little knowledge of warning sign among adults, literature still show that the relationship between advertising warning signs and alcohol consumption is an understudied area. The study examined the attitude of Nigerian university undergraduates to the 18+ warning sign in alcoholic beverage advertisements.
The study adopted the survey research design. The target population of the study was 195,000 undergraduates from nine selected universities in South-West, Nigeria. Multi-stage sampling technique was used in the selection process. Purposive sampling was used to select three states (Lagos, Ogun and Oyo), based on concentration of universities in the states. The universities in the selected states were stratified into Federal, State and Private. Three universities were purposively selected from each state (one from each stratum). Gay, Geoffrey and Peter’s formula was adopted to draw the sample size of 1,950 respondents who were proportionately distributed to the nine selected universities. A validated questionnaire was used as the instrument. The Cronbach’s Alpha coefficients for the constructs ranged from 0.735 to 0.945.Response rate was 95.7%. Data were analyzed using correlation and regression analyses.
The findings revealed that there was significant relationship between students’ awareness of the 18+ warning sign and their attitudes towards consumption (r=0.242; p<0.05). There was significant positive relationship between students’ recognition of the 18+ warning sign and attitudes towards consumption (r=0.485; p<0.05). There was also a significant positive relationship between students’ perception of the credibility of the 18+ warning sign and attitudes towards consumption (r=0.664; p<0.05). It was found that the 18+ sign significantly influenced attitudes of the underage towards consumption (R2=0.494; p<0.05). Demographic variables significantly influenced the attitudes of undergraduates towards the 18+ warning sign (R2=0.017; p<0.05).
The study concluded that the 18+ warning sign in alcoholic beverage advertisements discouraged undergraduates’ consumption of alcoholic beverages. The study recommended that advertisers, as sponsors of the promotional messages that promote alcohol consumption, should intensify the use of the 18+ warning sign and other warning labels for the purpose of being socially responsible. Also advertising relevant agencies in line with existing regulations should intensify efforts at monitoring the content of advertisements to ensure compliance with set standards.
Keywords:Alcohol advertising, Awareness, Perception, Alcohol consumption, Alcoholic beverage
1.1 Background to the Study
Alcohol is perhaps the most commonly used drug among adolescents. It is a ubiquitous toxin and the excess consumption of it can harm almost any organ or system of the body (Anderson, 2007). Alcohol consumption carries a risk of adverse health and social consequences as a result of drunkenness; it is responsible for a range of social, health and economic harms which tend to be most pronounced among the youths (Australian Medical Association, 2012). The harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption as highlighted by Chikere and Mayowa (2011) includes worldwide disease of esophageal cancer, liver cancer, homicide, epilepsy, cirrhosis of the liver and so on.
Alcohol consumption in the past decades was basically used at ceremonies for entertainment, but in Nigeria today, the quantity and reason for consumption are rapidly changing (Chikere & Mayowa, 2011). The new trend of alcohol consumption among young people in Nigeria today contributes to Nigeria’s ranking among thirty countries with highest per capita consumption of alcohol globally (World Health Organization, 2004). The quantity of consumption by the Nigerian youths is what seem to result in an increased burden of alcohol-related problems such as addiction, poor academic performance, risky driving, health issues, to mention a few (Dumbili, 2013). Despite the effort to prevent underage alcohol consumption, it is still a persistent public health problem (Komro & Toomey, 2002).
The role of advertising as a possible stimulus to alcohol consumption and as a contributor to the abuse of alcohol has in recent years been controverted because advertising has been associated with underage purchase and consumption of alcohol (Nelson, 2001). Arens (2006) defined advertising as “a structured and composed non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products (good, services and ideas) by identified sponsors, through various media” (p. 7). Advertising creates the impression that, for a relatively small expenditure, young people can psychologically connect to positive fantasy places, lifestyle and personality characteristics it portrays. Advertising is one potential source of information for young people about the cost of alcohol and its benefits and information supplied by advertising can result in more positive expectancies about alcohol, which can change actual or intended consumption behavior (Saffer, 2002).
The effect of alcohol advertising can be found in the effect of alcohol consumption behavior of adolescents. Alcohol advertisements become attractive to young people in early adolescence, between the ages of ten (10) and fourteen (14). However, exposure to alcohol advertising increases the likelihood that an adolescent will start consuming alcohol and if such adolescent has already been consuming alcohol, there are chances that consumption will increase (Bouwmeester, n.d; Jones & Gordon, 2013). Alcohol advertisements are seen by youths on different communication media, but television advertising seems to be the most powerful means of marketing alcohol because children and youths spend more time watching television than using any other type of media. (Australian Medical Association, 2012). Radio advertising and product placement in television programming provide additional avenues for promoting alcoholic beverages (Australian Medical Association, 2012). Children have been found to identify alcohol advertisements as the ones they like most among the advertisements to which they have been exposed, and their liking of alcohol advertisements has been linked to alcohol consumption among the youth (Gunter, Hansen and Touri, 2008).