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MARKETING ETHICS

WHO highlights gaps in regulation of alcohol marketing across borders

By our News Team | 2022

Online collection of consumer data has created new and growing opportunities for alcohol marketers, global health body warns.

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the increasing use of sophisticated online marketing techniques for alcohol and the need for more effective regulation. 

Reducing the harm from alcohol – by regulating cross-border alcohol marketing, advertising and promotion is the first report from the WHO to detail the full extent of the way that alcohol is today being marketed across national borders – often by digital means – and in many cases regardless of the social, economic or cultural environment in receiving countries.

 

Marketing Ethics

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According to the WHO, worldwide, 3-million people die each year as a result of harmful use of alcohol – one every 10 seconds – representing about 5% of all deaths. A disproportionate number of these alcohol-related deaths occur among younger people, with 13.5% of all deaths among those who are 20–39 years of age being alcohol-related.

“Alcohol robs young people, their families and societies of their lives and potential,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Yet despite the clear risks to health, controls on the marketing of alcohol are much weaker than for other psychoactive products. Better, well enforced and more consistent regulation of alcohol marketing would both save and improve young lives across the world.”

Sophisticated online marketing has changed the game

One of the biggest changes in recent years to alcohol marketing is the use of sophisticated online marketing, the researchers say.

They state that the collection and analysis of data on users’ habits and preferences by global Internet providers has created new and growing opportunities for alcohol marketers to target messages to specific groups across national borders. Targeted advertising on social media is especially effective at using such data, with its impact strengthened by social influencers and sharing of posts between social media users. 

“The rising importance of digital media means that alcohol marketing has become increasingly cross-border”, said Dag Rekve of the Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Unit at the World Health Organization. 

“This makes it more difficult for countries that are regulating alcohol marketing to effectively control it in their jurisdictions. More collaboration between countries in this area is needed.”

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