Spending on U.S. advertising for sugary drinks increases 26% to over $1 billion

9 Jul 2020

Beverage companies increased their spending on advertising sugary drinks by 26% to over $1 billion between 2013 and 2018, according to a new study from UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. This increase in advertising primarily targets communities of color where preschoolers, children and teens are the primary recipients of this messaging.

This increase in advertising dollars was particularly pronounced for television advertising although the rate of viewership decreased during the same period. Exposure to TV ads declined 35% for preschooler (2-5 years), 42% for children between 6 and 11 years, and 52% for teenagers (12-17 years). In spite of the smaller amount of time spent watching the tube, companies still pushed significant marketing dollars through this channel.

Spending on U.S. advertising for sugary drinks increases 26% to over $1 billion

Spanish-language TV advertising rose 8% from 2013. The increase was even more stark from 2010 with an 80% jump in advertising dollars for soda, sports drinks and energy drinks on these stations within the past 10 years. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Innovation Ventures were responsible for 98% of sugary drink and energy drink ad spending through this media.

For Black children, the statistics were also higher than their white counterparts. The report identified Black children as 2.1 times more likely to see sugary drink ads and Black teens 2.3 times more likely to be exposed to these ads.

While the majority of the advertising for sugary beverages is invested in soda brands, sports drinks also saw a significant bump with spending increasing 24% during the time period and advertising for sweetened ice tea rising 66%.

The energy drink category saw a 34% decline in spending and fruit drinks and flavored water categories experienced a 5% reduction in advertising spending.

The report noted, “Despite major beverage companies’ pledges to increase marketing of lower-calorie drinks, sugary drinks continue to represent the vast majority of brands’ advertising expenditures.”

Based on the findings in this study, researchers recommend that beverage manufacturers, retailers, and media companies reduce the marketing of these beverages to support public health. Regular consumption of sugary beverages has been shown to increase the rates of heart disease, type 2 diabestes and even result in death.

"It's well past time for the industry to stop putting profits ahead of our kids' health and put their advertising dollars behind products that contribute to good health rather than undermine it," said researcher Fran Fleming-Milici, in a statement.

Read the Full Study Here

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