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Alcohol and Advertising

It is not fair to say that all people drink to gain acceptance, or that all people use drinking to create a new self image. Quite often in life, however, even those who do not form an addiction, about three out of four individuals, have probably drank at one time to ease nerves and not worry so much what others think. Whether this is right or wrong per individual, it is very much a part of the Australian culture. Advertising agencies are definitely not the last ones to realize this. Their ads are manipulative in camouflaging dangerous realities linked to alcohol consumption.

Many consumers are informed that alcohol is an addictive substance, which may cause physical and emotional damage. Alcoholic products have power to alter peoples way of thinking merely by consumption. That is why advertisers work so hard in luring people to consume their product, carefully avoiding the issue that alcohol consumption could have negative consequences. Because the alcohol advertisement from Kahlua use peoples negative, confused, or lack of, self-image to promote consumption of their addictive product, this advertisement agency is compromising their audiences safety.

Manipulative strategy is used in the following alcohol advertisement. Negative feelings or situations are subtly presented, then shown positively remedied by consumption of alcohol. Using special pleading, advertisers strategically portray drinking only as glamorous and exciting. They are manipulative and careless by presenting only these characteristics of alcohol consumption, purposely omitting a parallel reality. An ad showing an alcoholic throwing up from withdrawals, confused and suicidal might possibly hinder sales.

This may seem like an over-exaggerated scenario; unfortunately, it is a realistic possibility when using alcohol as a means of coping. Take the Kahlua ad for example, this particular Advertisement features a blond model scantily dressed. The fact that she is scantily dressed, however, is not the real focus. She is wearing a bright yellow rain suit; cut mini-skirt length, connected to thigh high simulated boots, attached garter-style.

Her hair is blowing back wildly with her mouth open in an excited scream, showing us that Anything goes. At a quick glance, she appears to be having a great time. To notice the weird details, seemingly intended for the audience, would require a longer look than just the usual few seconds an ad is typically viewed would. This alcohol ad suggests mixing Kahlua to make a drink called a mudslide. The ridiculous yellow rain outfit the model is wearing matches the exact yellow Kahlua uses on their bottle label.

The model is standing in an obviously uncomfortable pose, holding up hot-pink rubber sand bags, in an effort to keep mud from bursting through onto her. She, however, is already standing in a few inches of mud. When viewed for only the intended few seconds, this ad just looks silly. Critically analyzing the Kahlua ad, I see the attractive model differently than at first glance; she is completely out of place, dirty, uncomfortable, barely holding something up, inches deep in mud, conversely depicted as excited and happy, unaware and uncaring of her predicament.

Many assumptions may be drawn from taking a closer look, depending on what type of person is viewing this ad, and where their insecurities regarding self-esteem and identity lie. This ad presents many reasons people may choose to drink; if drinking offered change. Looking back at the critical evaluation of how the Kahlua ad portrayed the model can illustrate these reasons. Seeing her completely out of place, dirty, and uncomfortable could prey upon the consumers feelings of social displacement, ranging in any disparity from money to physical appearance.

Viewing the model barely holding something up while standing inches deep in mud, could symbolize the consumers negative feelings of being in over their head in some area of their life. This advertisement manipulates the audience by presenting the model in this fashion, then conversely depicting her as excited and happy, unaware and uncaring of her predicament because it is implied she consumes Kahlua, therefore Anything Goes.

The finishing touch, for Kahluas Anything Goes ad, printed in very small print, at the bottom of the page, located in the mud, says, Anything Goes Except Irresponsible Drinking(18). It is revolting that this extremely important fact, when consuming alcohol, is printed in a muted color, very tiny, and placed in the mud. The Kahlua advertisement preys upon the fear and shame from peoples self-perceived inadequacies. This ad works very hard to provoke the negative, confused or inadequate self-esteem that is often a characteristic of alcoholics.

Because it carelessly manipulates anyone who will believe, it is a danger to society. It is offensive and nauseating that advertisement agencies feel it necessary to use such dangerous and careless measures to promote their product. Alcohol is a physically addictive substance, which should not be presented as a solution to any psychological problem a consumer may have. Alcohol use can become a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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