The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently in the midst of its fourth major study to determine the effectiveness of voluntary industry guidelines regarding the advertising and marketing practices of alcoholic beverage manufacturers. The purpose of the guidelines is to reduce the promotion of the drinks to underage audiences. The FTC reached out to 14 manufacturers including Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., Bacardi USA, Inc., Heineken USA, Inc., Pernod Ricard USA, and Skyy Spirits LLC.
The FTC seeks information regarding advertising placement and expenditures. While the agency has done this review three other times—1999, 2003, and 2008—this is the first time that it is requesting information regarding Internet and digital marketing and data collection practices. Recommendations from past reports resulted in agreements by the Beer Institute, the Wine Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States to adopt voluntary advertising placement standards; buying guidelines for radio, print, television, and Internet advertising; and to require internal audits and external reviews of placements and compliance. All of these measures help to limit the exposure of alcohol advertising to youth.