MADD Mothers Take US Alcohol Advertising to Task

22 March 2002

Encouraged by US television network NBC’s volte-face over liquor advertising [WAMN: 21-Mar-02], pressure group Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants curbs placed on the promotion of all alcoholic beverages.

Eager “to limit the exposure [to alcohol ads] of underage viewers,” MADD president-elect Wendy J Hamilton proposed “time, place and manner restrictions” for all broadcast and magazine ads for any alcoholic drink, including beer and wine.

MADD wants a ban on the promotion of such beverages by actors under 30, cartoon characters, animals, athletes or any other “languages or images” with youth cachet.

Moreover, if the group gets its way, booze ads would not be allowed in programming where less than 90% of the audience was over 21. They would also be accompanied by ads produced by the government or an independent body promoting responsible drinking.

Although MADD opposed NBC’s decision to air liquor ads, its guidlines are not a million miles away from those the network drew up to govern spirits advertising. These included the use of social responsibility messages, a ban on actors under 29 appearing in liquor spots and the limiting of ads to programs where at least 85% of the audience was over 21.

“Why didn't NBC apply its responsibility standards for liquor ads to the advertisements for other alcoholic beverages?” asked Hamilton. “In MADD's opinion, that is the bigger issue.”

In addition, the pressure group wants Congress to go ahead with hearings on alcohol advertising, even though NBC’s decision to air liquor ads has been reversed.

Unsurprisingly, there was less than wholehearted support from the alcohol industry. Beer Institute president Jeff Becker said he agreed with the need to prevent underage drinking, but insisted that current ad standards are sufficient.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff