Alcohol marketing on social media: young adults engage with alcohol marketing on facebook

Patricia Niland, Tim McCreanor, Antonia C. Lyons, Christine Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (SciVal)
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Background: Young adults are highly-active users of social network sites such as Facebook for their everyday friendship socializing. Alcohol companies have strategically used Facebook to embed their alcohol marketing into young adults’ social networking friendship activities, blurring the lines between user and alcohol brand generated content. This study explored mechanisms through which commercial alcohol interests interact with young adults’ online friendship practices and how young adults engage with this online alcohol marketing. Method: Researcher-participant online Facebook interviews were conducted with seven (4 females, 3 males) New Zealand young adults (18–25 years). The interviews were recorded using data screen-capture software to track participants’ online navigation and audiovisual recording of the conversation and non-verbal behaviors. Results: Our social constructionist thematic analysis identified that online alcohol marketing is obscured within friendship endorsing and invitations to drink; taken up as content for Facebook friendship fun; and objected to as intrusions into online friendship activities. Conclusions: Social media alcohol marketing encourages alcohol consumption through new forms of promotion and the exploitation of networked peer group friendship practices. The interaction between young adults’ online friendship practices and alcohol marketers as “friends” inside these practices needs urgent attention by policymakers seeking to reduce alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number4
Early online date7 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Alcohol marketing
  • Facebook
  • health promotion
  • social networking
  • young adults


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