The link between alcohol and pop music

Teenagers are being heavily exposed to alcohol brand references in popular music, especially in rap, R&B and hip hop songs. With most references associating with positive consequences, researchers say this may constitute a form of alcohol advertising to underage teens.

A study of 793 of the most popular songs in the youth market between 2005 and 2007 found that brand names were mentioned in about 25% of the songs that mention alcohol. Alcohol brand appearances were commonly associated with wealth (63.4%), sex (58.5%), luxury objects (51.2%), partying (48.8%), other drugs (43.9%), and vehicles (39.0%).

The link between music and alcohol

Photo by Nico Nelson

In their study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh note that frequent exposure of young people to brand-name references in popular music may constitute a form of advertising, and could contribute to the early initiation and maintenance of substance use among adolescents. Typically, brand-name references to alcohol are strongly associated with positive feelings and associations, which are often the goal of advertisements. The brands found in music, such as Patron Tequila, Grey Goose Vodka, and Hennessey Cognac, represent the same distilled spirits brands that are increasingly named as favourites by underage drinkers in the US, especially women.

Music artists buying into the alcohol industry

The authors suggest that the relatively high level of brand-name alcohol appearances in popular music may be a consequence of strengthening ties between the alcohol and music industries. Individual artists, particularly those in the rap and hip hop communities, have begun to establish and promote their own alcohol lines, including Lil’ Jon (Little Jonathan Wineries, 2008), Ludacris (Conjure Vodka, 2009), Jay-Z (Armadale Vodka, 2002), Snoop Dogg (Landy Cognac, 2008), TI (Remy Martin Cognac, 2010) and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Ciroc Vodka, 2001).

Line blurs between advertising and brand references

According to the authors, most instances of brand-name references in song lyrics seem to be unsolicited and unpaid for by advertising companies. However, the line between paid advertising and brand references is difficult to distinguish because advertising companies have begun retroactively to reward artists with product, sponsorship, or endorsement deals after a song containing their product’s name becomes popular. For example, when Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit “Pass the Courvoisier” was released in 2002, the cognac’s sales jumped 18.9% and Courvoisier’s parent company, France’s Allied Domecq, subsequently reached a lucrative promotional deal with Busta and P. Diddy’s management company.

Alcohol trade associations have developed self-regulation codes that specify inappropriate marketing practices, such as forbidding marketing to audiences below legal drinking age. However, because rap music is popular among high school students, the authors suggest that alcohol advertising campaigns that focus on rap artists are clearly reaching underage drinkers.

The results of the study were published in October 2011 in the international journal Addiction.

 

Comments

  1. Michelle Nugent says:

    i never heard Passion pop in any songs as a youngster?

  2. Michelle Nugent says:

    cheap wine and a three day growth!!! there you go…that was it.

  3. UB40….Red red wine….but seriously the teenage drinking culture is scary.

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