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PRODUCT PLACEMENT OF ALCOHOL IN TEEN MOVIES:
A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF PERCEPTIONS AND ATTITUDES
OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I would like to express my deepest thanks to my committee chairperson, Dr.
Debbie Treise, and my committee members, Dr. Cynthia Morton and Dr. Michael
Weigold. Dr. Treise provided constant support, guidance and encouragement, even when
I wasn't really sure what I was doing. Dr. Morton and Dr. Weigold provided guidance
and knowledge in their areas of expertise. Also, I would like to thank the staff, faculty,
students and parents at Boca Raton High School. They were extremely accommodating
and helpful. I also want to thank my parents, Marshall and Patricia Bellin. Without their
constant support, both emotional and financial, none of this would have been possible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A CK N O W LED G EM EN T S ......... .. ........................................................... .............. iii
ABSTRACT ............... .......................................... vi
1 IN TRODU CTION .......................................... .... ............. .............. ..
T he M P A A R ating System .................................. ..................................................... 4
Teens as Moviegoers................................... 5
Im portance of Study ................................................. .. ........ .. .......... .. 7
O organization of Thesis .................. ..................................... .. .......... .. 8
2 L ITE R A TU R E R E V IEW ....................................................................... ...................9
Alcohol Advertising...................................... .... ........ 9
History and Current Trends in Alcohol Advertising.............................................. 9
Teens and A alcohol A dvertising......................................... ......................... 11
Product Placem ent .......... ............... .................. 13
B background of Product Placem ent................................... ................................... 13
Product Placem ents in M ovies ................................................... ................. 16
Pros and Cons of Product Placement ............. ....................................................... 18
Ethical Implications of Alcohol Product Placements........................................... 20
Social L earning Theory.................... ......... .......... ............ .................... .. ................ 22
R research Q questions .................. ............................ ............ ..... ........ .. 28
3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ...................................................................................... ...........30
R rationale and Strengths of Focus G roups................................................ ... ................. 30
Visual Stimuli ................................................ .......... 31
R researcher Inv olv em ent...................................................................................... 33
Focus G group Participants .......................................................................... .............. 33
Pilot Study................. .................. ........ .............. 35
D ata Collection and A nalysis..................................................... .......................... 35
4 R E S U L T S ................................................................................................................ 3 7
Q questionnaire R results .... ............................ .... ............................ .............. 37
Analysis of W written Sum m aries ........................................................ ......... ..... 38
A analysis of Focus G roup D discussions ........................................................ ................ 39
Remembering Context and Usage Verbal Mentions and Humor Are
Im portant .................................... .......................... .... ...... 40
Thoughts on Character U sage ....................................................... .... ........ .. 41
B rand N am es vs. G enerics ................................................................. .............. 42
Does It Make Them Want To Drink? ............................................................. 43
Advertising Alcohol: Traditional vs. Product Placement .............. ................... 43
Do Movies Influence Teens? .................................................. 45
Attitudes Tow ard Product Placem ents ............................................................... 46
5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS......................................................................48
D iscu ssio n ..................................................... 4 8
Im plications....................... ............... ..... ............. 55
L im station s ........................ ........................................................................ 5 5
Suggestions for Future R research .............. ......................................................... 56
A SC R EEN IN G Q U E STIO N S .............................................................. .....................58
B FOCUS GROUP QUESTION GUIDE.......................................................................59
C QUESTIONN AIRE .......... .. ................................. ........ .... ................. 61
D IRB AND CON SEN T FORM S.......................................................... ............... 64
E SAMPLE FOCUS GROUP TRANSCRIPT ...................................... ............... 70
REFERENCES ................... ......... .. ...... ... ..................97
B IO G R A PH ICA L SK ETCH ........... ..................................................... .....................102
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
PLACEMENT OF BRANDS OF ALCOHOL IN "TEEN" MOVIES: A QUALITATIVE
ANALYSIS OF PERCEPTIONS AND ATTITUDES OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Chair: Dr. Deborah Treise
Department: Mass Communication
Product placement is the placing of a brand name product, package, sign or logo
into a movie or television program for a fee or by donation. The alcohol industry has
used this nontraditional form of advertising to market its products to audiences of all
ages. Research has already been done on teenagers and the effects of alcohol advertising
and alcohol use in movies. Because of the rising concern over teens and alcohol use, as
well as the ethical and psychological implications associated with teens and alcohol
advertising, "teen" movies were the focus of this study.
Qualitative research explored the ways in which high school students notice and
recall brands of alcohol in teen movies, as well as their evaluations of the brands based
on the context or scene in which they appeared. Six focus groups were conducted, three
all-male and three all-female groups.
Overall, the participants were able to correctly recall the scene and character using
the brand in two of the three movie clips. A major finding in this study was that teens
were much more likely to recall traditional advertisements for brands of alcohol than they
were to recall placements of brands of alcohol in movies; they also were more likely to
recognize and recall brands in movies if they had seen them advertised. The implications
for product placement practitioners are discussed.
In 1998, more than $1.2 billion was spent on alcohol advertising in print, outdoor,
radio and television. Additionally, over $600 billion was spent on other forms of
promotion, including sponsorships, couponing and direct mail (Saffer 2002). Although
alcohol advertising decreased by 34% between 1987 and 1996, it has been increasing
since 1997 (Saffer 2002).
By 18 years of age, the average American teen will have seen 10,000 beer
commercials on television. Experts believe that advertisements for alcohol encourage
underage drinking, establish brand loyalty at an early age, and have contributed to the rise
in teen alcoholism (Monroe 1994).
In highly concentrated industries such as the alcohol industry, competition through
advertising, rather than price, is often preferred. In 1999, the advertising-to-sales ratio
for the alcohol industry was about 9%, whereas the average industry advertising-to-sales
ratio was about 3% (Saffer 2002).
While alcohol companies hold that they advertise simply to encourage adult
drinkers to switch brands or to continue drinking their current brand, many critics feel
that they are targeting teenagers. One of those critics, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, former adviser
to the U.S. Surgeon General, believes that Americans are drinking at increasingly
younger ages because of alcohol advertising aimed at teens. Some of the ways critics feel
alcohol companies target teens are through sponsorships of sporting events and concerts,
t-shirt and hat give-aways; and by running ads during television programs that are likely
to have a large teenage audience (Monroe 1994). While counter-advertising efforts could
help discourage underage drinking, many believe that as long as alcohol consumption is
socially accepted by a teen's peer group and societal messages reinforce its use, teen
drinking will remain at high levels (Abrams and Niaura 1987, Christiansen et al. 1989,
Kelly and Edwards 1998).
Alcohol has been appearing in movies since at least 1945, when Joan Crawford
was shown drinking Jack Daniels in the movie Mildred Pierce (Nebenzahl and Secunda
1993). Since then, Gordon's gin was Humphrey Bogart's drink of choice in the movie
The African Queen (DeLorme and Reid 1999), John Belushi chugged an entire bottle of
Jack Daniels in Animal House, and Tom Cruise drank Red Stripe beer in The Firm
(Marshall and Ayers 1998). These are only a few examples of how the alcohol industry
has marketed its product through a nontraditional form of advertising.
Product placement is a relatively new way for companies to advertise.
Companies place their brands of products in movies or on television shows to be used as
props for a contractual fee or by donation (DeLorme and Reid 1999). Babin and Carder
(1996) defined product or brand placement as using a brand-name product, package, sign,
or other display of the brand's name or logo in a motion picture to influence audiences.
According to the Entertainment Resources Marketing Association, there may be an
occasional payment by the advertiser for a "key" placement in a television program or
motion picture, but most deals do not involve cash payments. Instead, the company
usually supplies goods or equipment for use in filming, or includes some extra product
for the crew (Entertainment Resources Marketing Association [ERMA] 2002). When
placements do involve a direct payment, fees are often based on how the brand is placed
in the scene. Character use is the most expensive, verbal mentions are moderately priced,
and visual exposure is the least expensive. There are three types of visual exposure: the
product itself is shown, the brand's logo is displayed, or an advertisement for the product
is placed as a background prop (DeLorme and Reid 1999).
Product placement was originally created as a means of reducing production costs
for the filmmakers, but it also helps add a sense of realism to the films (ERMA 2002).
Product placements benefit advertisers by showing the product used in a realistic setting,
providing greater reach than traditional forms of advertising, and by offering an
alternative media for products restricted from television, such as cigarettes and liquor
(DeLorme and Reid 1999).
While there are many advantages to companies whose products appear in movies,
there can also be negative consequences. Most companies don't want their products
associated with an unfavorable character or context. On the other hand, many studios do
not want to associate a socially stigmatized product, like handguns or cigarettes, with a
likeable character because, while they may need the products for realism, studios do not
want to be seen as endorsing them (Palmer 1998).
Teenagers today have grown up with product placements in movies. Because
they have become so accustomed to them, teenagers feel that they are immune to the
placements' persuasive powers (DeLorme and Reid 1999). There is no existing research
on the effects of alcohol placements on teenagers, but there have been studies on another
stigmatized product cigarettes. Evidence of a strong association between high exposure
to tobacco use in films and smoking in adolescents suggests that influence from films is
as strong as other kinds of social influence, such as smoking by a parent or sibling
(Sargent et al. 2001). This study seeks to explore teens' attitudes and perceptions of
alcohol product placements in movies.
The MPAA Rating System
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) serves as the voice of the
American motion picture, home video and television industries. It was founded in 1922
as the trade association of the American film industry and has since broadened its
authority to include the other areas of the expanding industry (MPAA 2002).
In 1968, the voluntary film-rating system of the motion picture industry was
created, with NATO, MPAA, and IFIDA, as its supervisory groups. There were initially
four rating categories: G for general audiences, all ages admitted; M for mature
audiences, parental guidance suggested, but all ages admitted; R for restricted, children
under 16 years old (later raised to 17 years old) admitted only with accompanying parent
or adult guardian; and X for no one under 17 admitted. A year later, the rating M was
changed to its current label, "PG: Parental Guidance Suggested," because many parents
perceived the M rating to be more severe than the R rating. In 1984, the PG category was
split into two groups, PG and PG-13. The PG-13 rating meant the film contained a
higher level of intensity than a PG-rated film (MPAA 2002).
In 1990, two more revisions were announced. First, the MPAA introduced brief
explanations of why films received R ratings. The Ratings Board believed that since an
R-rated film contains adult material, it would be helpful for parents to know a little more
about the film's content before allowing their children to see it with them. Later the
MPAA began applying explanations to the PG, PG-13 and NC-17 categories as well.
These explanations are available to parents at the theater, in some media reviews and
listings, and on the MPAA's website, www.mpaa.org (MPAA 2002).
The other name change was from X to NC-17, which meant that no one under 17
would be admitted. The members of the MPAA believed that over the years the X rating
had taken on a "surly" meaning in the minds of many people, so the MPAA felt that by
changing the name it would better describe an "adults only" category of movies that most
parents would want to have forbidden to viewing by their children (MPAA 2002).
In 2001, PG-13 movies represented over 20% of all rated films, a 3% increase
from the previous year. Movies rated PG accounted for 7%, movies rated G for 4%, and
movies rated R (though decreased from the previous year) made up the largest percentage
of rated films at 67%. No movies were rated NC-17. Since 1968, 2% of reviewed films
have been rated NC-17, 7% have been rated G, 23% have been rated PG, 11% have been
rated PG-13, and 57% have been rated R (MPAA 2002).
Teens as Moviegoers
The U.S. box office gross reached an all-time high in 2001 at $8.4 billion, a 9.8%
increase from the previous year, and a 75% increase since 1991. Box office admissions
in the U.S. were 1.49 billion in 2001, an increase of 78 million people, or 5% from the
previous year. In 2001 frequent moviegoers, or those who attend at least one movie a
month, tended to be younger than frequent moviegoers in 2000, with 12- to 24-year-olds
accounting for 40% of total frequent moviegoers (MPAA 2002).
Teen movie attendance is steadily increasing, with teens accounting for more movie
admissions in 2001 than in past years. In 2001, 54% of teen moviegoers went to the
movies frequently, compared to 45% in 1996 (MPAA 2002).
While 12- to 17-year-olds accounted for 11% of the total U.S. population in 2001,
they accounted for 19% of total movie admissions. Twelve- to 24-year-olds increased
their share of total moviegoers to 30% in 2001. Fifty-nine percent of this age group is
considered either frequent or occasional viewers (MPAA 2002).
Half the film going audience is under the age of 25. This group sees three to four
films a month (Klady 1999), which makes them frequent moviegoers. Teenagers are
more likely to report being frequent moviegoers than adults. Fifty-one percent of 12- to
17-year-olds said they were frequent moviegoers, compared to 24% of adults age 18 and
over (MPAA 2002).
According to Leff (1999), teenagers hit their peak as moviegoers between the ages
of 15 and 17. When a sample of teenagers was asked what they had done during the
previous week, 54% of 12- to 15-year-olds said they had been to the movies. The
number increased to 59% for 16- to 17-year-olds and declined to 50% for 18- to
19-year-olds. The teenage boy demographic sees more movies than any other
demographic, and if they really like a movie, will see it two or more times. Moviegoers
ages 12 to 24 made up 38% of theater ticket sales in 1998, compared to 25- to
39-year-olds, who accounted for 27% of sales. The 12- to 24-year-old group accounted
for $1.48 billion of 1998's $3.9 billion domestic box office (Leff 1999). Going to the
movies is teens' second-favorite leisure activity, after listening to music (Ebenkamp
What is considered a teen movie? Films with young main characters tend to be the
most appealing to audiences under 20, as do most horror films and lowbrow comedies
(Klady 1999). Not only do these movies entertain, they also influence. According to the
teen research newsletter Beats Per Minute, 56% of teens got an idea for a future career
after seeing an occupation in a movie, 38% reported discovering a new role model after
watching a film, and 30% have modeled their hairstyle after a character in a movie. At
the same time, teens are not likely to take up a new hobby, such as playing a sport, just
because they saw it in a movie (Ebenkamp 2001). Movies were also found to influence
behaviors like childhood play, imitations of adult behavior, daydreaming, emotional
experiences and lifestyles (DeLorme and Reid 1999).
Sixty-one percent of teenagers said they planned to spend more money on going to
the movies in 1999 than they did the year before, which may explain the increase in the
number of teen movies (Berman 1999). Also, teen movies cost less to produce and are
easier and cheaper to market (Klady 1999). This increase in the number of teen movies
gives advertisers even more ways to reach the teen segment, because a popular movie
could help a company sell millions of dollars of merchandise. Marketers are taking
advantage of this with promotional tie-ins and cross-promotions. For example, the cast
of The Faculty was dressed in Tommy Hilfiger clothes while Mod Squad promoted
Levi's (Berman 1999).
Importance of Study
Over the past few years, universities across the country have reported a steady
increase in the percentage of their students who are drinkers, as well as an increase in the
amount of alcohol consumed by these students. It has been suggested that this increase is
due to the fact that more students are already drinkers when they get to college, which
means they started drinking when they were in high school (Wechsler 1996). Teens and
adolescents may be receiving mixed messages about alcohol use and abuse, not only from
the traditional forms of advertising like commercials and print ads, but also from the
brands they see being used by characters in television programs and movies. To date,
there are no existing studies on teens and alcohol product placements in movies created
specifically for teens.
This study is important from an ethical and psychological standpoint because critics
believe that product placements condition children at a young age to be brand loyal
consumers, even before they are ready to make marketplace decisions (M. Friedman
2001). This notion also can be applied to teenagers, since they are at the age when many
will start drinking alcohol and will develop brand loyalty. The brands that appear in
these movies may be influencing individuals' future brand choices.
Organization of Thesis
Chapter 2, the Literature Review, provides a summary of current research of
advertising, including alcohol advertising and the effects of advertising on teenagers, the
product placement industry, teenagers and movies, and social learning theory. Chapter 3,
Methodology, explains the research design and rationale and discusses the experimental
procedures. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the data and Chapter 5 discusses the
conclusions, limitations and recommendations for future research.
This chapter is divided into three main sections based on the topic of discussion:
(1) alcohol advertising, including the recent history and current trends, its effects on
teenagers and ethical implications; (2) product placement, including background
information, product placements on television and in movies, pros and cons and ethical
implications; and (3) social learning theory as it relates to alcohol consumption and
History and Current Trends in Alcohol Advertising
Over the past decade there has been an increase in concern over alcohol
advertising, particularly because the distilled spirits industry had been discussing putting
an end to its decades-long voluntary ban on television advertising. In February of 1997,
hearings were held to discuss the benefits and consequences of alcohol advertising on
television, and to gauge the public interest in keeping hard liquor ads off the air. The
Commerce Committee of the Federal Communications Commission did not want this
debate to include the beer industry and its advertisements, because they did not want to
upset the financial relationship between beer advertising and the broadcasting of sporting
events (Mundy 1997). The goal was to encourage liquor distributors to continue their
voluntary ban on television advertising.
In the last few months of 2001, NBC confirmed rumors that it would begin airing
liquor advertisements during prime time. While this was a first for network television,
some cable networks and local stations had been airing liquor commercials since the mid-
1990s. Since NBC's announcement, liquor spending on television jumped to $18.1
million, up from $469,500 in 1995. NBC did offer some restrictions, though, such as
requiring each liquor advertiser to sponsor social responsibility messages for four months
before their ads could be shown. Spokespeople for ABC, CBS and FOX all said they did
not plan to accept liquor advertisements (Callahan 2002).
By the middle of March 2002, NBC had reversed its decision to accept hard liquor
advertisements. They did, however, agree to show ads for brands associated with hard
liquor, such as Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver, which fall under the alternative malt
beverage category. These beverages are reported to contain roughly the same amount of
alcohol as beer. CBS's sports division revised its policy on liquor advertising to include
this category (Goetzl 2002).
In 1998 the FTC prohibited Beck's beer from airing one of its commercials that
depicted young adults on a boat, some of them holding bottles of beer. Regulators said
the spot may have violated federal and state boating safety laws, and forbade the
company from running commercials that depicted people consuming alcohol on a boat
because these activities posed a safety risk (McConnell 1998).
In 1999 the FTC issued a report that urged the alcohol industry to make an effort to
limit its messages' impact on children. The report suggested that the alcohol industry
should limit alcohol ads to programming where most of the audience is adults and
prohibit ads that appeal to kids even if they are targeted to adults over 25 (AdAge 1999).
Ambler (1996) contends that since advertising attempts to build profit through
increased volume and higher prices, the purpose of alcohol advertising is mainly to
persuade consumers to trade up to more expensive, higher quality brands. He also
believed that a ban on alcohol advertising would lead to a price war, and that a drop in
alcohol prices could lead to a marginal increase in consumption.
Teens and Alcohol Advertising
There are currently 31 million people in the United States between the ages of 12
and 19, a number that will grow to 35 million by 2010, making it the largest teen
population in U.S. history. In 1999, this age group spent $153 billion, an 8.5% increase
from the previous year (Bao and Shao 2002).
Teenagers are often described as heavy media users and as greatly influenced by
images in the media, making them an appealing market to advertisers and marketers
(LaFerle et al. 2000). While the information they acquire from the media makes them
more attuned to purchasing, it also makes them very skilled at recognizing blatant
persuasion attempts. This ultimately makes them more difficult to market to than past
generations (Bao and Shao 2002, LaFerle et al. 2000).
Anti-alcohol groups fear that more television exposure will lead to more underage
drinking and argue that any encouragement of alcohol consumption is wrong. Grube
(1993) studied the influence of alcohol advertising on youth. He found that adolescents
who were exposed to heavy alcohol advertisements were more likely to believe that
drinkers possess valued characteristics, such as being attractive, athletic, or successful.
They also held more favorable beliefs about drinking, such as that it was acceptable for
teenagers to become intoxicated. Adolescents who were more knowledgeable of beer
brands and slogans were also more aware of television beer commercials, which suggests
that children who are curious about drinking seek out information about alcohol. Grube
believes that they may get this information from advertisements. The results also suggest
that alcohol advertising may predispose adolescents toward drinking. He suggested
restricting alcohol advertisements on television during times when children may be
watching and limiting sponsorships of concerts and other events that young people might
Many critics have suggested that alcohol companies target young people through
image advertising, which focuses on the lifestyle of the user of the product, rather than
product advertising, which focuses on the value of the product itself. Kelly and Edwards
(1998) studied ad preference and intent to consume alcohol among 7t, 9th, and 11th grade
students. They hypothesized that there would be a positive relationship between
preference for image advertising and intent to consume alcohol. The students were
shown sets of ads for a number of different alcoholic beverages, with each set containing
both an image advertisement and a product advertisement, and were asked to compare the
two. Image ads were preferred overall, and while there was no significant difference
between the "no intent" and the "intent to drink" groups as far as preference for image
ads, those who intended to drink exhibited stronger positive feelings towards the image
ads. Since alcohol advertisers claim they are not trying to reach this market, Kelly and
Edwards suggested they should use more product, rather than image advertisements.
They added, however, that it would be unlikely that banning image advertisements for
alcohol would affect alcohol consumption among youth.
Other critics suggest that the fantastic imagery and appeals used by alcohol
advertisers may have serious and unwanted consequences, especially on teenagers and
young adults. Parker (1998) studied drinking behavior and the role of alcohol advertising
in the lives of college students to show that the targets of alcohol ads identify and relate
to powerful consumer myths. Her first research question was designed to gauge whether
informants' life experiences were revealed in their interpretations of alcohol
advertisements. The second research question was to find whether the informants would
suggest any alcohol-related myths in their ad interpretations. Informants were first
shown a number of different alcohol ads and were asked to respond to a series of
questions about their feelings toward the ads. Then they were given a life story interview
that asked about their background, family history, interests, and drinking behavior. The
findings provided insight as to what the informants did with alcohol advertisements,
rather than what alcohol advertising was doing to them. Informants were shown to use
the advertising medium as a projective device to transfer meanings to themselves. The
meanings, along with their pre-existing self-concepts, created a unique ad experience for
each individual. Findings with life themes suggested that people make connections
between advertisements and the issues in their lives, allowing them to make connections
between the ads and themselves because of the personal salience of the messages.
Themes, characters, and myths in alcohol ads are attractive and entertaining to this age
group and are often consistent with their life themes and self-concepts, such as comfort,
control, or rebellion. Parker also noted that marketers of alcoholic drinks targeted at
college-age students often use themes that imply danger, mystery, or intrigue to position
Background of Product Placement
Companies will spend millions of dollars to be associated with a film. Burger King
typically spends $20 to 25 million in paid media toward a summer movie. Cadillac has
already provided several million dollars worth of prototypes to be used in the upcoming
Matrix 2. Meanwhile, Lucasfilm has signed a collective $16 million deal with General
Mills and Frito-Lay for the next Star Wars movie and Spider-Man had at least four major
corporate sponsors, which amounted to approximately $40 million in additional paid
media for the film (W. Friedman 2001).
The technique of placing branded products in motion pictures was used as early as
1945 when Joan Crawford was shown drinking Jack Daniels in the movie Mildred Pierce
(Nebenzahl and Secunda 1993). In that early stage of movie product placement,
marketers made deals with either studio prop masters or with film studio management to
negotiate a bartered arrangement. It was not uncommon for companies to offer a year's
supply of their product to production company executives or prop masters in exchange
for placement of that brand in their film. Similarly, now rather than paying cash for the
placements, most advertising companies will usually supply goods or equipment for use
in filming, or include some extra product for the crew (ERMA 2002).
Each studio has a Production Resources Department that deals with product
placements. Among other factors, this department considers issues such as the film's
target audience and the means by which placements may decrease the film's production
cost. The production team usually makes a "wish list" of specific products that are
defined by brand name and are given top priority because they relate to the "creative
aspect" of the film. If the team feels a placement will jeopardize the film's creative
integrity in any way, it will be rejected (ERMA 2002).
Product Placements on Television
Many critics contend that product placements on television raise regulatory and
ethical concerns. Some believe brands appearing in scripted television programs border
on blatant commercial intent. Others believe the constant repetition and exposure in
television viewing is troublesome because brand loyalty, or preference for a particular
brand, is related to frequency of brand exposure (Avery and Ferraro 2000). It could also
be said that since the product is portrayed as part of the character's lifestyle, the
placement could be considered image advertising.
Monitoring television-programming content is important because of its potential
influence on consumers through messages about alcohol and behavior. Mathios et al.
(1998) sampled 276 prime-time programs on four major television networks and gathered
information about food and beverage episodes embedded in the content of the program.
They looked at the particular food or beverage being portrayed, the characters using the
items, and the context in which they were used. Alcoholic beverages were the most
frequently shown food or drink, averaging approximately two placements per program.
Most of the alcoholic beverages were shown on situation comedies, movies, dramas, and
adult cartoons. Over 7% of alcohol incidents involved adolescents, although they were
usually portrayed as having negative personality characteristics. Adult characters
portraying alcohol were found, for the most part, to have positive personality
characteristics, especially if they are shown drinking wine.
While many argue that beliefs and behaviors can be shaped by exposure to alcohol
on television programs and in advertisements, Grube (1993) points out that there is little
real evidence to suggest that exposure to alcohol portrayals on television influences
young people to drink. Critics fear that showing characters consuming alcohol will set a
bad example for children, however, research has shown that characters on television
programs are usually of a legal age and usually portrayed drinking in moderation.
Product Placements in Movies
McIntosh et al. (1999) rated characters from 100 popular films and compared the
ratings of drinkers and non-drinkers to determine what messages popular movies send
about alcohol. They found that drinkers tend to be portrayed as being upper class, more
attractive, more romantically/sexually active, and more aggressive. Based on statistics
from the U.S. Census Bureau, McIntosh et al. determined that the characteristics
associated with drinkers in films are reasonably close to the characteristics of drinkers in
society. While it should be noted that movies fail to depict some of the negative
consequences of drinking, in general, the depiction of alcohol use in movies is fairly
representative of its use in society.
DeLorme and Reid's (1999) study of product placement found three themes related
to "movie centrality": appreciating realism, noticing the familiar, and relating to
characters. To many, branded props were significant because they added realism to the
movie scenery. Informants said they were impressed when brands were used
appropriately and considered to be a part of the story. Branded props were also judged to
add authenticity to movies when associated with a particular setting, time period, or
context. One informant particularly noticed the "old-fashioned" brands of beer in Forrest
Gump. Informants also felt irritated and insulted by generic product props that were
judged to interfere with movie realism and to interrupt the movie viewing experience.
Moviegoers were particularly attuned to familiar branded products and services that they
themselves had previously purchased and consumed in their everyday lives. Informants
indicated that the relationship with characters strengthened, and the involvement in and
enjoyment of the movie increased, when they noticed "their brands" being used by a
character or featured in a scene. Brand placement was also seen as significant because it
provided relevant information about the character's personality, lifestyle, and role in the
DeLorme and Reid (1999) found four themes that were related to consumer
behavior: tools for purchasing decisions, tools for identity and aspirations, change and
discomfort, and belonging and security. These themes represent interpretations that are
linked to movie-specific aspects of brand prop exposure, and how they extend beyond the
movie viewing experience to consumption-specific aspects of everyday life. One
informant in this study pointed out the impact of an alcohol placement on one of his
friends. He mentioned that his friend switched brands of gin, from Tanqueray to
Gordon's, because his idol, Humphrey Bogart, drank Gordon's gin in the movie The
Branded props were also thought to perform such everyday marketing-related
functions as reinforcing consumer confidence, reducing cognitive dissonance, and
standing as symbols of distrust. The informants judged branded props as tools that allow
the reliving of past events and the vicarious experience of living others' experiences.
Brands were also seen as significant in that they enabled further understanding of the
informants' social worlds (DeLorme and Reid 1999).
Nebenzahl and Secunda (1993) studied college students' feelings toward product
placements in movies. A majority of the students, speaking as consumers, did not object
to product placement and viewed it as an effective marketing communication medium
that should be allowed. The participants reported that they were tired of traditional
commercials and would rather be exposed to less obtrusive forms of marketing
communications, such as product placements. Those who objected to the other forms of
marketing communications did so because they felt these tactics were time consuming
and/or annoying. A small minority who objected to product placements did so based on
ethics. They perceived product placements as a concealed attempt to delude the
Younger informants in DeLorme and Reid's (1999) study associated branded props
with an invitation to cultural belonging and feelings of emotional security. These younger
moviegoers, ages 18 to 21, had grown up with brands in movies and were accustomed to
the practice. They reported that when a brand is present in a movie, they usually take it
for granted and overlook it because it's so common. Ultimately, the informants
considered themselves immune to the persuasive power of brands encountered in films
and believe that the appearance of brand props in movies is neither deceptive,
manipulative, nor harmful.
Babin and Carder (1996) studied college students' recognition, or familiarity with
brands placed in movies, and recollection, or remembering the brands that appeared in
movies. Their results suggest that audiences will recognize more brands appearing in a
film with several product placements than they will actually recall.
Pros and Cons of Product Placement
Product placement has a number of advantages for marketers and moviemakers. It
is the only form of advertising with a diminishing cost per thousand (Marshall and Ayers
1998). Cost per thousand is the cost of exposing 1,000 members of the target audience to
the message. When the products are donated, the only cost to the marketer is whatever
the products normally cost and any extra "donations" to the studio executives or prop
masters. Even when the marketer actually pays the studio to use their products, the return
on investment is much greater than any cost to him, for two reasons. First, the marketer
is reaching a captive audience the people watching the movie can't just change the
channel, as is the case with television commercials. One production company president
said that movies are better than any magazine or television commercial at promoting a
product because the audience is unaware of any sponsor involvement (Glantz 2001).
Additionally, when the movie comes out on video, not only are the advertising companies
reaching those who didn't see the movie when it was in the theater, but they are also
achieving frequency, by reaching those who will have seen the movie more than once.
In addition to being cost-effective, allowing advertisers to reach captive audiences
and providing greater reach than traditional advertising, product placements benefit the
advertisers by demonstrating brand usage in realistic settings and offering an alternative
advertising media option for liquor and tobacco products, which are restricted from
broadcast television. Product placements also benefit the filmmakers by offsetting movie
production costs and creating more natural movie settings (DeLorme and Reid 1999).
Marshall and Ayers (1998) commented on a column Philip Van Munching wrote in
Brandweek about product placement in movies. In his column, Van Munching said he
thought product placement advertising was a scam. In his section of the commentary,
Marshall stated that brands include product placement in their marketing mix to achieve
reach and cost effectiveness. Additionally, product placements can provide opportunity
for trade or consumer promotions, such as tie-ins with fast food restaurants. Ayers added
that sales of Red Stripe beer went up after Tom Cruise drank it in The Firm, which
substantiated his point that product placements are suited to increasing brand awareness,
or the prominence of a brand in one's mind, and enhancing a brand's image or status.
While there are a number of advantages to companies whose products appear in
films, there can also be disadvantages. Most companies don't want their products
associated with an unfavorable character or context, so they may choose to keep their
product out of a film, a practice known as product displacement. Todd Solondz, director
of the movie Happiness, which is about a pedophile, said that not many companies tried
to get their products placed in his movie. While there were companies that received
thanks in the credits, their products did not actually appear in the film (Palmer 1998).
One example of a company that practiced product displacement is Kraft Foods.
Kraft wanted to make sure its products weren't mentioned anywhere in the movie Jello
Shots, which was about people getting drunk from the title concoction, because Kraft was
aware that it would look bad for the Jell-O brand name (Palmer 1998). Another company
that practiced product displacement is Chivas Regal. The producers of the movie
Dolores Claiborne were asked to substitute another brand for Chivas Regal when a
"seedy, alcoholic character was to mix Chivas with Coca-Cola" (Karrh 1998, p. 37).
Ethical Implications of Alcohol Product Placements
Consumer advocacy groups argue that product placements are deceptive and cause
moviegoers, unaware of their persuasive intent, to engage in purchase behaviors. Many
groups have attempted to have product placements banned or at least regulated; they have
remained unsuccessful in influencing formal public policy. There has been an ongoing
legal debate about whether product placements are considered commercial speech, which
would make it subject to government regulation. Critics believe that placements of
unhealthy products like cigarettes and alcohol should be restricted. On the other hand,
proponents of product placements argue that they are not forms of commercial speech
and that filmmakers, not government regulation, should determine when and how product
should be placed (DeLorme and Reid 1999).
Surveys have found that 73% of the general public believes that alcohol advertising
is a major contributor to underage drinking. Studies have found that alcohol advertising
may predispose adolescents toward drinking, because it seems to increase their positive
attitudes toward drinking and their likelihood to drink (Grube 1993).
According to the Advertising and Marketing Code of the Beer Institute, advertising
or marketing material should not use any material that would appeal to people under the
legal drinking age, including language, music, or any entertainment figure or group that is
intended to appeal to minors. Actors should be at least 25 years old, and should appear to
be at least 21. Additionally, beer advertising and marketing materials should not be
placed in any medium or at any event where most of the audience is likely to be under the
legal drinking age (Beer Institute 2002).
According to the Entertainment Resources Marketing Association (ERMA), "If you
are supplying an alcoholic beverage, you do not want minors consuming it onscreen"
(ERMA 2002). In 1998 the FTC ordered eight alcoholic beverage companies to supply
information about their efforts to ensure that product placements in movies and television
are directed to an adult audience (McConnell 1998). In 1999 the FTC added that alcohol
companies should limit placements to R and NC-17 films (AdAge 1999).
The problem with alcohol placements in movies and television programs is that
young people can see these products being used even though they are not supposed to see
such advertising. Alcohol portrayals on television provide messages about drinking that
may encourage young people to drink, for example, underage drinking is often treated
humorously, and the seriousness of problematic drinking is often overlooked (Grube
Social Learning Theory
Social-learning theory proposes that people observe the behaviors, attitudes and
emotional reactions of others and learn to model those behaviors when faced with similar
situations. According to the founder of social learning theory, Albert Bandura, "Learning
would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on
the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human
behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms
an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded
information serves as a guide for action" (1977, p. 22).
Social learning theory attempts to explain human behavior in terms of the constant
interaction of cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences, while focusing on the
"person factors" in explaining learning and behavior. The individual is both an
instrument and a recipient of behavior patterns. There is a pattern of four processes that
facilitate social learning: attention, when the individual takes notice of something in the
environment; retention, the individual remembers what they noticed; reproduction, the
individual copies the noticed action; and motivation, the environment delivers a
consequence that either reinforces or punishes the action, thereby affecting the likelihood
that the individual will repeat that action in the future (Bandura 1977).
According to Abrams and Niaura (1987), behaviors and environments are thought
to interact with some of the main cognitive capabilities: symbolizing, forethought,
self-regulatory, self-reflective and vicarious capabilities. Symbolizing refers to an
individual's ability to build cognitive models of experience that guide future decisions
and actions. Forethought refers to an individual's ability to anticipate the outcomes of
actions and set goals. Self-regulatory capability refers to an individual's ability to control
their behaviors through internal standards and evaluating their own reactions.
Self-reflective capability refers to an individual's ability to reflect upon his/her thoughts
and monitor his/her ideas. Vicarious capability refers to the assumption that individuals
learn by observing others' behaviors and the outcomes of those behaviors (Abrams and
Bandura (1977) suggested that by showing attractive, sophisticated characters
engaging in health-risking behaviors, movies glamorize those behaviors. The concern is
that these portrayals influence moviegoers' future behaviors, especially those of
impressionable children and teens, who are likely to model characters who are likeable,
popular and seem to be similar to them (Bandura 1977). Attitudes toward alcohol use
have been proven to be influenced by observing the drinking behavior of role models,
including those observed in films (Room 1988).
The tenets of social learning theory would suggest that drinking alcohol, as a social
behavior, is acquired and maintained by modeling, social reinforcement, expectancies of
the effects of alcohol, and personal experience with the effects of alcohol consumption,
either positive or negative. One of the major principles of social learning theory
regarding alcohol use is that learning to drink alcohol is an important part of psychosocial
development and socialization within a culture. According to Abrams and Niaura (1987),
adolescent drinking behaviors, attitudes, and expectancies of alcohol are derived from
social influences within their culture, family and peers. A great deal of learning takes
place before the child has consumed any alcohol. Influence is indirectly exerted by
attitudes, expectancies, and beliefs, and directly by modeling alcohol consumption, media
portrayals of drinking, and social reinforcement for drinking. Family and peers can
influence both the onset and continuance of drinking behaviors among adolescents by
affecting their attitudes and modeling drinking behaviors in social situations (Abrams and
Beliefs and behaviors may be shaped by exposure to alcohol in television programs
(Grube 1993). Television programs tend to portray alcohol consumption as a way to
enhance the enjoyment of a social situation, reduce social tension and escape stress.
Alcohol consumption on television programs tends to be socially reinforced and has few
negative consequences (Abrams and Niaura 1987). The social reinforcement may
influence others to model this behavior because they are expecting the same positive
outcomes from consuming alcohol.
Dramatic portrayals of alcohol have been studied in movies to test the impact on
young adults. When looking at the absence or presence of negative consequences of
drinking alcohol, the absence of negative consequences in a film led to the most
favorable attitudes toward drinking. Exposure to negative consequences of drinking in
the movies led to the least favorable attitudes. These findings indicate that showing
negative consequences associated with alcohol consumption could influence attitudes
towards drinking (Bahk 1997).
A study of 18- and 19-year-old college students was designed to test the influence
of movie portrayals of drinking liquor. Participants viewed either films clips with
positive portrayals of drinking, negative portrayals of drinking, or film portrayals of no
drinking. While participants in the positive condition reported more positive feelings
toward alcohol than did participants in the negative group, the difference was small.
Meanwhile, those who watched both positive and negative portrayals reported higher
negative expectancies than those in the control condition. The suggested explanation for
this result is that portrayals of drinking, regardless of the outcome, cause anticipation of
negative consequences in young drinkers, perhaps by bringing up memories of bad past
experiences with liquor. The findings were interpreted to mean that even relatively short
(under one hour) exposure to film portrayals of liquor can have an immediate impact on
older adolescents' expectancies of drinking alcohol, but that effect is not strong (Kulick
and Rosenberg 2001). This suggests that showing negative outcomes of alcohol
consumption may have a stronger effect on social learning than showing positive
According to Earleywine (1995), people are more likely to face a decision to drink
in a setting where they are expecting more positive effects of drinking, like at a party.
While drinkers may decide to decrease future consumption in settings associated with
negative effects, such as when experiencing a hang over, these negative expectancies may
not be as accessible the next time they have the opportunity to drink. Positive
expectancies of the effects of alcohol use were related to intentions to drink when they
were primed. Negative expectancies did not have a significant correlation with intentions
to drink when they were primed, which suggests that manipulating negative expectancies
may have little impact on intentions to drink (Earleywine 1995).
Social learning theory suggests that experimental substance use stems from the
attitudes and behaviors of those who serve as an adolescent's role models. Adolescents'
involvement with substance-using role models is likely to have three consequences. First
they will observe and imitate the substance-specific behaviors; second, they will likely
experience social reinforcement for substance use; and third, they will expect positive
social and physiological effects from future use. Observing role models experimenting
with substances can directly shape an adolescent's expectations of the social, personal
and physiological effects. Social learning theory suggests that making substance-using
role models less salient and making non-using role models more salient would help
prevent experimental substance use among adolescents (Petraitis et al. 1995).
Because social learning theory suggests that behavior is directed by specific
environmental influences, including learning by direct observation, or modeling, it could
be assumed that peer behavior would have a direct effect on children's behavior. Iannotti
and Bush (1992) tested urban fourth and fifth grade students to see which had more
influence, the child's perceptions of their peers' behaviors and attitudes regarding
substance use or the actual behaviors and attitudes of peers. It was found that perception
of peers' use is more likely to influence behaviors than actual use. It was concluded that
while modeling, as suggested by social learning theory, may account for the effect of
classroom use, it would not predict the weak effect of friends' use (lannotti and Bush
Lipsitz et al. (1993) tested alcohol expectancies between fifth and eighth grade
students using beer and soft drink commercials. They found no difference between the
effects of exposure to beer commercials and exposure to anti-drinking messages neither
affected alcohol expectancies. One of the main differences in the way fifth and eighth
grade students thought about alcohol was that eighth grade students did not find the
alcohol ads novel or surprising. The differences in thinking tended to occur on the
social/emotional expectancy scale, rather than the cognitive/motor expectancy scale.
This suggests that while drug or alcohol education may convince children of the
cognitive/motor problems caused by alcohol use, it may "fail to discredit" the social and
emotional benefits of alcohol use. One possible explanation they mentioned for these
results is that alcohol advertising does not affect alcohol expectancies, and that the results
reflect the reality that television ads have little or no impact on adolescents' feelings
about alcohol. Lipsitz et al. were not able to find any strong evidence to the contrary.
Slater et al. (1996) found that many junior high school students perceive characters
in beer commercials to be under 21. This is troubling because it is in junior high that
many will make their first decisions about experimenting with alcohol. The concern is
that they may be influenced by their perceptions that people in the commercials appear to
be underage. Slater et al. found a positive correlation between the number of students
who perceived the drinkers to be underage and the number of students who were already
drinking alcohol. This finding is consistent with the idea that the influence of potential
role models, such as the persons shown in advertisements, may influence adolescents at a
time in their lives when they are starting to make decisions about themselves.
Alcohol expectancies connect past experiences regarding alcohol use with an actual
decision to drink at a later point in time. It has been found that well-developed
expectancies exist before young people have had substantial drinking experience. It is
apparent that social learning processes, including parental modeling, mass media, and
peer group influence must play a substantial role (Christiansen et al. 1989).
Christiansen et al. (1982) found two processes that are responsible for producing
alcohol-related expectancies in adolescents. One is that relatively well-developed
expectancies exist before they start drinking. These expectancies are expressed by
family, peers, and the media, and by observing others drinking. It was also found that
these expectancies from social learning tend to change with age and drinking experience.
Specifically, an increase in age and in drinking experience led to more permanent
expectancy factors. These findings show that while alcohol expectancies are related to
drinking experience, they also exist in very young people without any prior drinking
experience. "It appears that the preconditions for positive reinforcement of alcohol use
exists in adolescents the very first time they drink" (Christiansen et al. 1982, p. 343).
The field of product placement advertising has been expanding rapidly. The
motion picture industry is becoming a valuable medium in advertising and marketing to
consumers, as evidence has shown that product placements increase sales and brand
Numerous studies have been conducted on product placements and adult
moviegoers; however, research has not focused on teenagers as a viewing audience.
Movies directed toward teenagers were the focus of this study. Teens make up the largest
percentage of the American movie going audience, and a majority of these teens see at
least one movie a month.
Alcohol advertising is a relatively controversial issue. Critics believe that alcohol
advertising may be among the leading reasons for the increase in teen alcohol
consumption and abuse. While a number of studies have focused on teens' perceptions
of alcohol in print advertisements and television commercials, no studies to date have
focused on product placements as a means of advertising alcoholic beverages.
This study uses qualitative research to explore whether high school students notice
and recall placements of brands of alcohol in teen movies. This study also explored how
teens evaluated alcohol product placements based on the context of their usage and their
attitudes toward alcohol product placements as a whole. The research questions are as
Research Question 1: Do teens notice the specific brands of alcohol that have been
placed in these "teen" movies?
Research Question 2: Do teens have different evaluations of brands based on the
context or scene in which they appear?
This study seeks to explore, rather than explain, teens' attitudes and perceptions of
alcohol product placements. Qualitative, rather than quantitative research, is better suited
for this type of study because it allows for a deeper understanding of each participant's
attitudes and perceptions of the topics of alcohol advertising and product placements in
movies. Focus groups were selected as the primary method of research because they
allowed the researcher to gather information from small group discussions of the topics
of interest (Morgan 1997). The focus groups provided a relaxed setting in which
participants could feel comfortable discussing the topics of alcohol advertising and
product placements. The teenage participants felt more comfortable talking to the
researcher in same-gender groups rather than individually or in mixed-gender groups.
Rationale and Strengths of Focus Groups
Focus groups were selected as the means of gathering information because they
allowed the researcher to lead guided discussions of the topics of alcohol advertising,
alcohol usage in movies and product placements. Focus groups were preferred to
in-depth interviews because it was assumed that the group dynamic of a focus group
would help to bring out unanticipated aspects of the discussion topics and may not have
emerged during an individual interview (Babbie 2001). In addition, the subject of
product placement is primarily based on movie recall, which can be prompted by others
in the group, rather than individual interviews with the researcher (M. Friedman 2001).
Visual stimuli in the form of movie clips were used during the focus groups. The
movie clips, which were shown at the beginning of the focus groups, were used as an
autodriving technique to stimulate discussion (McCracken 1988). Movies were selected
from the Top 120 grossing movies of 2000 and 2001, as listed on
www.BoxOfficeReport.com. From those movies, 30 were identified as "teen" movies.
A movie was considered a "teen" movie if a majority of the main characters were
teenagers or young adults. PG-13 movies were selected from these 30 because R-rated
movies contain material that may be inappropriate for teens under 17 and it was assumed
that PG-13 movies were appropriate for this age group. The MPAA rating system was
used as a guideline. Then www.screenit.com was used to determine whether or not there
was alcohol use in each film. Films with at least a mild or moderate amount of alcohol
use and that were available on video at the time of the content analysis were then
analyzed. A total of 10 films were analyzed by the researcher to determine if there were
substantial alcohol product placements in each film. A placement was considered
substantial if the product was either given a verbal mention or was shown on the screen
for at least two seconds. Two seconds is considered the industry average for the amount
of time a product remains on the screen (Troup 1991).
Three films were selected for the study, The Fast and The Furious, Loser and
Summer Catch. A 5- to 7-minute clip from each film was selected, totaling
approximately 15 to 20 minutes of clips. Two films contained both verbal mentions and
visual placements, and one was visual only.
After each clip was shown, participants were given about two minutes to write a
brief summary of the clip before the next clip was shown. The Fast and The Furious was
selected because it contained a prominent placement of Corona beer. Corona was given a
verbal mention and was shown being directly consumed by one of the main characters.
The Fast and The Furious is about an undercover cop, Brian (played by Paul Walker),
investigating a string of truck robberies. One of the prime suspects is Dominic (played
by Vin Diesel), who is the leader of a team of street racers. In this clip the two are
walking to Dominic's house after a street race. Brian kept Dominic from getting in
trouble by helping him flee the police. Dominic's friends, one in particular named Vince,
were not happy about him bringing a new person into their group of friends. There was
obvious tension between Brian and Vince. Dominic took Vince's beer away from him
and then said to Brian "You can have any beer you want, as long as it's a Corona." He
then gave Brian Vince's beer, and before Brian drank out of it, the camera focused on
him wiping the mouth of the bottle with his shirt.
Loser was selected because Sam Adams beer was prominently placed in a number
of scenes throughout the movie. This movie is about a college freshman named Paul
(played by Jason Biggs) and his experiences during his first year in college. In this clip,
his friend Dora (played by Mena Suvari) is applying for a job in a convenience store. A
guy walks in and buys two 12-packs of Sam Adams and invites her to a party. At the
party, another guy puts some type of drug in her drink and she ends up getting sick.
Summer Catch was selected because Sam Adams beer was given both verbal and
visual placements and there were signs in the background for Guinness, Dos Equis, and
Bass beers. Summer Catch is about a landscaper named Ryan (played by Freddie Prinze
Jr.) who joins the Cape Cod summer baseball league, where many baseball players "get
discovered." He becomes friends with the team's catcher, Billy (played by Matthew
Lillard) and gets involved with Tenley, a "rich girl" played by Jessica Biel. This clip
takes place in the bar Ryan's brother runs. He orders three Sam Adams and sits down at
a table with his teammates. One of his teammates says something that makes him angry
and Billy prevents them from fighting by asking Ryan to come with him to talk to some
girls, which is how he meets Tenley. Then a waitress (played by Brittany Murphy)
walks by the table and makes a funny comment about Ryan, which makes Billy laugh and
spit out his mouthful of beer.
Initially, there was a low level of moderator involvement, as the participants were
asked to write a brief summary of each clip, including anything that stood out to them or
what they liked or didn't like in each clip. The purpose of this was to gain an
understanding of the participants' first impressions of each clip, what caught their
attention, and to see if they would mention the alcohol brands before they were directly
asked about them.
After the clips were shown and the summaries were completed, the researcher
began the discussion. Due to the strong, pre-existing agenda of the research, a high level
of moderator involvement was needed during the discussion to ensure that all groups
would discuss the same issues in a comparable fashion, and to keep the discussion
focused on the topics (Morgan 1997). After the discussion, each participant filled out a
questionnaire, which provided the researcher with background information about
participants' current alcohol use and intended future use (see Appendix C).
Focus Group Participants
Six focus groups were conducted, three comprised of all males and three comprised
of all females. There were either five or six participants in each group. There were three
focus groups for each gender because according to Morgan (1997), more than three to
five groups seldom provide meaningful new insights. The researcher also chose to use
small-sized groups because they allowed more time for each participant to talk, which
provided a clearer sense of each participant's reaction to the topics (Morgan 1997).
Edmunds (1999) also recommended using five to six participants per group because
smaller groups allow for interaction among the participants without requiring each
individual to constantly speak. This would provide a greater comfort level among
participants, which is more conducive to successful discussions. The focus groups were
conducted on the Boca Raton High School campus and lasted about an hour. Parental
consent was acquired for each participant prior the focus group sessions (see Appendix
D). Boca Raton High School was selected because the researcher was familiar with the
campus and the faculty, and was able to secure their cooperation with the study.
Participants were selected based on their familiarity with the topic (Babbie 2001).
Students were given a screening questionnaire, which asked how many movies they
typically watched each month, including in the movie theater, on video or DVD, and on
cable television. Frequent moviegoers were best suited as participants in this study.
According to the MPAA, a "frequent" moviegoer is one who sees at least one film each
month or 12 films a year. Because a majority of the students had seen at least one movie
in the theater in the past month, the researcher included video/DVD and cable movie-
watching get a better idea of each student's average monthly movie consumption.
Students who reported watching at least six movies a month on average, with a
breakdown of at least one movie in the theater, one on video or DVD, and two on cable
each month, were asked to participate in a focus group. The screening questionnaire can
be found in Appendix A.
The pilot study used two focus groups with high school students; one with females
ages 14 to 17, and one with males ages 14 to 18. The purpose of the pilot study was to
test the focus group question guide (see Appendix B), to provide the researcher with
familiarity in moderating a discussion, and to test the effectiveness of showing each
movie clip in the focus group setting (M. Friedman 2001). The focus groups were
conducted at Boca Raton High School and were moderated by the primary researcher.
The focus groups were conducted in a classroom with a round table, television and VCR.
Data Collection and Analysis
The focus group sessions were tape recorded so that they could later be transcribed.
Transcription helps to facilitate analysis as well as establish a permanent written record
of each focus group (Stewart and Shamdasani 1990). Audiotaping was preferred to
videotaping because videotaping does not provide the researcher with much more
information than does audiotaping. While videotaping allows the researcher to see facial
expressions and group dynamics, several cameras and additional lighting would be
required to allow for detailed observations. Also, most data analyses are based on
transcripts from audio, not video recordings (Morgan 1997). Audio recording was also
assumed to be less intrusive and protected the participants' privacy.
After conducting the focus groups, the tapes were transcribed by the researcher.
The researcher then read each script, while listening to the tape, to check for accuracy. If
any words or phrases were inaudible during the first hearing, the researcher listened to
the tape three more times in an attempt to decipher the words. If after three times the
word or phrase was still unclear, the word or phrase was labeled inaudible.
Analytic induction (Glaser and Strauss 1967) was used to analyze the data. First
the researcher read through each transcript to identify the sections of conversation that
were relevant to the research questions. After the initial reading of each transcript, the
researcher devised a classification system for major topics or issues that came up in the
focus group discussions, and items from each transcript that related to the topics were
identified. The items highlighted in the transcripts were then used as supporting
materials and included as part of the analysis.
Focus groups were conducted with teenagers, ages 14 to 19. The participants were
in ninth through 12th grades at Boca Raton High School. In total, there were 16 male and
16 female participants. The mean age for participants was 15.56 for females and 15.25
for males. Five of the males were 14 years old, six were 15, three were 16, one was 17
and one was 19. Five of the females were 14 years old, three were 15, four were 16,
three were 17 and one was 19. The pilot study indicated that the focus group question
guide and movie clips selected were appropriate for this age group. Six focus groups
were conducted, three all-male groups and three all-female groups, with five to six
participants in each group. The groups were segmented by gender because the researcher
assumed that the teenage participants would feel more comfortable talking to the
researcher in same-gender groups rather than in mixed-gender groups.
Twenty-one of the 32 participants currently drink or have at some point consumed
alcohol. Almost all reported that they only drink "every once in a while," which suggests
that they are social, rather than habitual drinkers, although a few reported drinking once a
week. The participants usually drink either at parties, a friend's house or at home.
Eighteen of the 21 are usually with friends (including a boyfriend or girlfriend) when
they drink. The heavy preference was malt beverages or wine coolers, then liquor, then
beer. The brands they most often drink are Smimoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade,
Budweiser and Skyy Blue. Other brands they mentioned drinking were Corona, Captain
Morgan, Crown Royale, Busch, Icehouse, Coors and Cook's. When they drink, about
two-thirds (n=7) of the male participants tend to have between two and three drinks,
while the other one-third (n=4) have one drink. Almost two-thirds (n=6) of the female
participants have one drink, while almost one-third (n=3) have between four and six
drinks. The age at which participants began drinking varied a great deal. One male
reported that he had his first drink when he was eight years old. Three males reported
that they had their first drink at age 13, while the other males reported drinking at 11, 12,
15 and 16. Females reported that they began drinking between the ages of 14 and 16.
Fourteen of the 21 participants who drink have been drunk at least once. Most of
those 14 have been drunk at least twice in the past six months. Almost all were with a
friend at least one of those times, at the friend's house. In order, they mentioned liquor,
beer and malt beverages as the types of alcohol they were drinking. The favored brands
were Mike's, Smimoff Ice and Corona. Other brands mentioned were Budweiser, Skyy
Blue, Absolut, Kalik, Jack Daniels, Busch, Coors Light and moonshine.
Of those who do not drink alcohol, about half plan to do so in the future, but they
do not know when. Over one-third plan to drink beer, while the rest were divided among
wine, liquor, malt beverages and "I don't know." None of the participants mentioned any
specific brands that they planned to consume.
Seventy-five percent of the participants' friends drink. Slightly less than 75% think
alcohol abuse is a big problem among high school students.
Analysis of Written Summaries
After each 5- to 7-minute movie clip was shown, the participants were asked to
write a brief summary of the clip, including anything that stood out to them or what they
liked or did not like about each scene. The major themes that emerged from the
summaries were: the party or bar setting, the presence of alcohol, tension or anger
between male characters and references to sex.
About half of the participants mentioned the party scene and/or that the characters
were drinking in The Fast and The Furious. Almost half mentioned the tension, anger or
potential fight, and the sexually suggestive nature of the females. One-quarter mentioned
that it portrayed typical teen life, and about one-fifth specifically mentioned Vin Diesel,
who was one of the main characters.
Almost all of the participants mentioned either the party scene, drinking alcohol or
both in Loser. Two-thirds mentioned that a female character had taken some sort of drug
or that a male character drugged her with the intention of having sex with her. A quarter
of the participants commented that they thought this was objectionable.
Half the participants mentioned alcohol use or that the characters were in a bar in
Summer Catch. One-third of the participants, mostly male, mentioned that they thought
the scene was funny, while one-quarter, mostly female, mentioned that the main character
met a girl. Four participants mentioned the film's main character, Freddie Prinze Jr. and
three noticed that he ordered Sam Adams at the bar.
Analysis of Focus Group Discussions
Almost all the participants had seen The Fast and The Furious at least once,
slightly less than half had seen Loser and slightly more than half had seen Summer Catch.
Of those who had seen The Fast and The Furious, slightly more than half had seen it in
the theater, while the rest had rented it. Most of those who had seen Loser watched it at
home, either on video, cable, or pay-per-view. Most of those who had seen Summer
Catch watched it at home on cable or pay-per-view. A majority watched the movies with
friends or family members and had seen each movie between two and three times.
The males cited the action or excitement and the entertaining plot as reasons for
watching The Fast and The Furious more than once, while the females cited the male
actors and the cars as their reasons. Most participants had seen Loser more than once
because there was "nothing else to do" or nothing else on television at the time. The
females watched Summer Catch more than once because they liked the story, whereas the
males watched it because there was nothing else on television.
When asked what, if anything, stood out to the participants in the clips, most of the
females said the male actors (particularly in The Fast and The Furious), and that each
scene depicted typical teen life. One added that she felt the females in each scene were
being disrespected. The males mentioned the female characters, drinking, the bar scene,
tension between characters, Corona, Sam Adams, the party scenes and the music.
Remembering Context and Usage Verbal Mentions and Humor Are Important
Overall, the participants correctly recalled the scene and the characters using the
products. Many pointed out the exact moment when the Corona was consumed in The
Fast and The Furious. According to one participant, "He gave it to him, he looked at it,
wiped it off and drank it." Some also pointed out that they might not have noticed the
product placement if the brand name had not been mentioned. Others felt that they might
have noticed it, but after the verbal mention it was hard to ignore. According to one
participant, "because he said it [Corona], it made it stick out even more." Many also
remembered that Paul Walker took another character's beer and wiped the rim of the
bottle with his shirt before drinking out of it, which they thought was funny.
Most participants did not remember seeing any brand names in Loser, which
contained a placement of Sam Adams beer. While many noticed the beer, they did not
notice what brand it was. A few participants also mentioned that one character bought
boxes of beer and carried them down the street, but no one recalled seeing it being
While a few participants correctly recalled that Sam Adams was being directly
consumed in Summer Catch, most only remembered that they were drinking beer of some
type. More participants recalled Matthew Lillard laughing and spitting it out all over
someone else than Freddie Prinze Jr. ordering three Sam Adams from the bar. About a
quarter of the participants added that they noticed signs in the background for other
brands of beer, but could not tell what brands they were. One participant pointed out,
"All bars have that...you don't notice things like that because that's something normal if
you go to a bar or anywhere that sells alcohol." Another participant added that since the
signs in the background were hard to read, those beer companies "...probably didn't pay
as much as the other ones to get in there."
The low recall of Sam Adams could be due to the participants' low level of
familiarity with the brand. Many pointed out that they hadn't seen very much advertising
for Sam Adams, especially when compared to Corona, with which they were more
familiar. Participants perceived Corona to be a well-liked brand and mentioned seeing a
lot of advertisements for it. Many had never heard of Sam Adams or considered it a
"cheaper" brand. In addition, a few participants thought they saw Budweiser in the clips
from The Fast and The Furious and Summer Catch, when actually it was not in either
Thoughts on Character Usage
In general, the participants viewed the brands separately from the characters using
them. While most participants did not feel that the brand usage said anything about the
characters, a few either thought that it was the character's preference or that it showed
that they liked to party. Others added that a brand is more likely to stand out to someone
who likes that brand, because they would think "that's what I drink.., he got good taste."
Participants also did not think that character usage said anything about the brand. A few
added that they thought the brands, especially Corona, were trying to appeal to a younger
(18 and up) audience.
Most participants didn't seem to mind that the characters were drinking in these
clips, even though they thought some of the characters appeared to be under 21. Others
thought the characters did look old enough to drink. Overall, the participants perceived
the characters in the clips to be between 20 and 30 years old. Most thought that the
characters in The Fast and The Furious were in their mid- to late-20s, the characters in
Loser were between 17 and 20, or in college, and the characters in Summer Catch were
thought to be between 20 and 25. A few participants thought that some of the characters
in each clip were supposed to be in high school.
Brand Names vs. Generics
In general, about half of the participants said they preferred seeing brand name
products instead of generics in movies, and the other half said they didn't really care.
Participants recalled seeing both generics and brand names in movies, such as "soda" and
"cola," as well as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Some other specific brands that were mentioned
were Jeep in Clueless, Tide in The Sii\hl Sense, Starbuck's in Austin Powers II, Faygo in
Big Money Hustlers, and Reese's Pieces in E. T Participants also mentioned Nike,
Adidas, Gucci and Mercedes, although they could not recall in which movies they had
seen the brands. In addition, one participant mentioned that the characters were drinking
"fake Budweiser" in The Replacements. Those who preferred seeing brand name
products felt that generics made the film look cheap. Participants also felt that seeing
characters drinking out of cans or bottles looked more realistic than cups, unless a keg
was present in the scene.
Does It Make Them Want To Drink?
Participants did not feel that seeing the characters drinking made them want to
drink, although a few pointed out that they already drink or plan to do so in the future, so
seeing film characters drinking wouldn't affect them anyway. A majority of the
participants did think that others might be influenced. Some females felt that males
might be more influenced to at least try a brand they saw in a movie, especially if a
favorite actor consumed the brand. Many participants also felt that while alcohol
placements wouldn't completely influence one's preference, they may get people to try
the brand, and if they liked it and their peers started drinking it, they might continue to
Advertising Alcohol: Traditional vs. Product Placement
Participants easily recalled a number of brands of alcohol they had seen advertised
lately. One quarter of the participants mentioned television commercials for Corona as
well as Budweiser or Bud Light. Other brands for which the participants remembered
seeing television advertising include Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Skyy Blue,
Miller or Miller Lite, Captain Morgan Gold, Foster's and Coors Light. Participants also
mentioned that they saw a lot of beer commercials during Monday Night Football and the
SuperBowl, especially for Budweiser; another participant pointed out that Miller Lite is a
sponsor of NASCAR. Interestingly, the male participants in one group said they liked the
commercials for Mike's Hard Lemonade and would consider trying it after seeing the
commercials. One participant said, "It's so funny, that like, you want to try it."
Participants recalled hearing radio commercials for Mike's Hard Lemonade, Skyy
Blue, Coors Light, Kahlua, Captain Morgan Gold, and Bud Light. They recalled seeing
billboards for Budweiser or Bud Light, Mike's, Smirnoff Ice, Corona, Heineken, Miller
Light, and Captain Morgan. Brands they recalled seeing advertised in magazines the
most include Skyy Blue, Corona, Captain Morgan and Absolut. Other brands they
mentioned were Bacardi O, Crown Royale, Budweiser, Smirnoff Ice, Mike's, Heineken,
B&J and Hennessey. A majority of the magazine advertisements were mentioned by the
males, who listed Source, Details, Vibe and Rolling Stone as magazines they read
Over three-quarters of the participants thought that alcohol advertisements are
directed toward their age group. Some think alcohol companies are going after a target
audience of 17- to 20-year-olds, while others think they are trying to reach 17- to
30-year-olds. Those who didn't think advertising was directed toward them felt the ads
were going after those at least 21 or between 20 and 30. In general, the participants felt
that alcohol companies are not concerned about underage drinking and only care about
selling their products and making money.
Participants felt that alcohol was being used or at least shown in almost every
movie they've seen, including most teen movies, such as Varsity Blues, American Pie (I
and II), Never Been Kissed, Van Wilder, A Walk to Remember and Save the Last Dance.
Beer was the most prominent drink. Participants recalled seeing both Budweiser and
Heineken, though they could not recall in which films they had seen them. They also
pointed out that there are kegs in many teen movies, so the characters are often shown
drinking from cups, as opposed to bottles or cans. They felt this was more acceptable
than showing generic brands. One participant thought that some films had to use
generics in scenes that depicted negative consequences of alcohol use because the alcohol
companies don't want their products associated with unfavorable or dangerous situations.
He added, "Usually, if it's a fake brand, they're going to jump off a bridge or do
Participants also recalled seeing alcohol in Triple X, Coyote Ugly, Disappearing
Acts and Waiting to Exhale. While participants could not recall any specific brands
shown in films, they did remember what they were drinking, especially when it was
verbalized. They specifically remembered that in The Replacements the characters were
drinking beer, in Blow they were drinking whiskey, in Rollerball they were drinking
martinis, and one participant even remembered seeing alcohol in .\l/ ek, when the king
was drinking wine. A few of the female participants also recalled that in Save the Last
Dance, one character ordered a "rum and coke, no ice."
It is interesting to note that it is important to some of the participants that the
characters consuming alcohol in films look at least 21. Teens know they're not old
enough to drink, but many do and they feel like it is their little secret. They don't like the
feeling that alcohol companies are already targeting them. They also don't like when
movies show out-of-control parties with teens getting drunk. Many teens' parents see
these movies and think that's what all teen parties are like, so they set restrictions on their
children's social lives. The teens object to this because not all parties are out-of-control
and not all teens drink at parties.
Do Movies Influence Teens?
Movies have influenced the participants in a number of ways, from hobbies to
language to clothing and hairstyles. Hobbies or activities they have become interested in
include dancing or cheerleading, cars and/or racing, basketball and martial arts. One
participant mentioned seeing a movie (could not recall the title) in which the characters
played a game called Pass the Pigs. He said when he saw it in a store, he recalled the
characters playing it and that it looked like fun, so he bought it. Participants have also
picked up on some of the language used in movies, most of which becomes inside jokes
Females mentioned copying the hairstyles of Cameron Diaz (couldn't remember
what movie) and Rachel Leigh Cook in She 's All That and the makeup of one of the
characters in Clueless and Jennifer Lopez in all of her movies. Males mentioned copying
hairstyles from music videos and television programs, but not from movies.
Attitudes Toward Product Placements
Overall, the participants realize that companies put their products in movies to
advertise them or so that people will buy them, although some believe that the companies
get paid for allowing their brands to appear in movies. Many participants have seen
products in movies that they have wanted to buy or actually bought, including clothes and
shoes, make-up, and as previously mentioned, the game Pass the Pigs. A few added that
they have either bought cars like those in The Fast and The Furious or added accessories
to their cars to make them more like the cars in The Fast and The Furious. Most think
others would be influenced to purchase items seen in movies, for example males think
females would be influenced to purchase clothes, and females think males would be
influenced to purchase shoes. This provides evidence of third person effects, which will
be discussed in Chapter 5.
When they see things they use on a daily basis in movies, participants either feel
that it is not a big deal because the actors are told to use them, they feel happy or excited
that an actor/actress is using the same brand that they use, or they just think it is a
coincidence. As one participant mentioned, "I've seen a couple of my outfits in movies
and stuff, but it's not like they only made one of them, so it's not that big of a deal."
Another said he noticed a faucet that he had in his home, but said, "They don't zoom in
on the name, like Delta ... but you do notice it 'cause ... you have it or use it." He
added that he didn't think Delta paid for the placement because "people aren't going to
really pay attention to it unless they already have it... and then they already bought it."
Other items participants own or use that they have seen in movies include Coca-Cola,
clothes and shoes (no specific brands were mentioned), Faygo soda, Cover Girl make-up,
Tide detergent and Old Spice deodorant.
The participants have mixed feelings about placing brands of alcohol in teen
movies. Many don't care or feel that it won't affect anyone because so many teens drink
already, others feel the companies are trying to persuade them and/or show off their
brand. Many added that the presence of brand name products shows real life or adds
realism to the scenes. Others felt that the placements do not affect them but may be bad
for others and perhaps should not be there. Very few actually thought it was a good idea
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
In order for alcohol companies to use product placements successfully to increase
brand image, they must understand who each movie's target audience is and their current
level of familiarity with the product. While existing research has studied alcohol use in
movies and teens' perceptions of traditional forms of alcohol advertising, to date there
have not been any studies on teens' perceptions of alcohol use in teen movies or product
placements in teen movies, including the attitudes and beliefs of teen audiences.
Overall, the participants were able to correctly recall the scene and character using
the brand in two of the three movie clips. One important factor in the recall of the
placements was the prominence of the product in each scene. The fact that none of the
participants recalled the brand in Loser suggests that its placement was not prominent
enough. It may also suggest that the brand would have to be consumed or mentioned in
order to gain recall among this age group, since they remembered seeing Corona in The
Fast and The Furious and Sam Adams in Summer Catch after they were both mentioned
and being directly consumed. Participants also tended to notice the brand more if it was
associated with humor in the scene, though it did not improve the brand's image.
A major finding in this study was that teens were much more likely to recall
traditional advertisements for brands of alcohol than they were to recall placements of
brands of alcohol in movies; they also were more likely to recognize and recall brands in
movies if they had seen them advertised. The participants may remember the traditional
forms of advertising before product placements because of the repetition or frequency of
commercials and print ads, and the fact they said they would need to see a movie many
times in order to notice all the props and everything in the background in a scene. It may
also be because, as one participant mentioned, brands tend to blend into the background
of the scene, especially if it is a setting in which the brand would normally appear, such
as a bar. It is interesting to note that the brands the participants reported drinking the
most often, Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Skyy Blue, Corona and Budweiser
were also among the brands they had seen advertised the most lately.
In order for placements to be successful, they must be a part of a larger marketing
plan. Sam Adams went unnoticed by many participants because they were unfamiliar
with the brand, as a result of not seeing it advertised very much, if at all. Corona was
noticed by many of the participants, who also mentioned seeing a good amount of
television commercials for it. Interestingly, about three weeks after the focus groups
were conducted, commercials for Sam Adams Light started appearing on television. It is
possible that if the focus groups had been conducted at least a month or two after the
commercials aired, the participants might have taken more notice of Sam Adams in the
This study also found that the effects of product placements on teens are not
immediate. Teens rarely go shopping with the intention of purchasing a product they saw
in a movie; however, if they see a product in the store and remember it from a movie,
they may buy it. This may also apply to their current feelings about brands of alcohol.
While they cannot legally purchase alcohol, many of the participants mentioned that if
they were given the opportunity, they might try a brand that they had seen in a movie, but
probably would not consciously seek out the brand. They added that their friends'
approval was a big determinant in whether or not they would continue using the brand.
Those who do not drink but plan to in the future did not mention any brands that
they plan to consume, which suggests that alcohol advertisements do not resonate with
those who are not currently interested in alcohol. This may support the alcohol industry's
claim that they are targeting current drinkers, and trying to get them to switch brands or
continue drinking their same brand, rather than trying to get those who do not drink to
For the most part, the participants were aware that companies pay to have their
products placed in movies and that the actors may not use those products in real life.
Because they attributed the motive for placing products in movies as being to advertise,
they are not likely to blindly accept the products shown in films.
Teens do not have a problem with seeing brands in movies because they have
always been there and they are used to them. The participants felt that brand name
products added realism to films and most would rather see a brand name product than a
generic product, because generics detract from the scene and make the movie look cheap.
However, while companies use product placement to increase brand image, when the
participants encountered an unfamiliar brand (Sam Adams), they either thought it was a
cheaper product or mistook it for another brand (Budweiser). In addition, in scenes with
alcohol use, they felt that it looked "fake" when the characters were shown drinking out
of cups, unless there was a keg present.
The fact that a few participants thought they saw Budweiser in two of the clips has
some interesting implications. It suggests that when an unfamiliar product is present or
when they can't tell what brand it is (as in the case with Sam Adams), they may think it is
a different brand, one with which they are more familiar. It may also imply that when
characters are drinking any brand of beer, participants may associate beer in general with
a popular brand. This may mean that when one company places its product in a movie,
other better-known companies in the industry could benefit.
Teens believe they are being targeted, which may be another reason why they do
not feel like product placements affect them. Many of the participants have watched teen
movies with family members and expressed concern that younger audiences, particularly
their younger siblings, might be influenced by alcohol placements in movies.
Many believed that the alcohol usage is unnecessary, not only in these clips but in
teen movies in general. Some even thought it was unethical and should only be used in
R-rated movies. Others pointed out that the context of usage determines if the placement
is ethical. For example, one participant pointed out that the characters appeared to be 21
and they were not being irresponsible or getting drunk or sick, so they just seemed like
social drinkers and the placements weren't a problem.
It is important to note the presence of third-person effects among participants.
Although many mentioned that they had purchased or wanted to purchase items they had
seen in movies, they did not believe that the placement of brands in movies influences
their purchase decisions. They did, however, believe that the presence of brands in
movies might influence others to purchase those items. The group dynamic seemed to be
a powerful stimulus in participants' exhibiting third person effects. For example, as soon
as one participant said he/she thought others would be influenced, everyone else seemed
to agree. There were also some interesting differences between males and females.
Females thought that males might be influenced to purchase shoes and males thought
females might be influenced to purchase clothes they had seen in movies. In general, the
participants did not think showing alcohol in movies has any effect on them, but they did
think it might influence some of their peers and younger audiences to drink. They also
thought that showing brands of alcohol might influence others to seek out those brands.
Some of the females added that they thought males might be more influenced to try a
brand of alcohol after seeing it consumed by a favorite actor in a movie. In addition,
participants thought alcohol abuse is a big problem among high school students. The fact
that most of the participants' friends drink offered a possible explanation for their strong
tendency to exhibit third-person effects.
Participants exhibited evidence of social learning with respect to alcohol
consumption, though it is difficult to tell whether they were modeling their peers'
behaviors or using them as reinforcements. Teens may model some of the behaviors and
preferences of characters in movies, but they need their peers' approval to continue the
behaviors. On the other hand, all of the participants who drink reported that their friends
drink, so their alcohol consumption habits may be a product of peer influence, and
movies may just reinforce the behavior.
The fact that the participants who drink are almost always with friends when they
do so suggests that drinking is seen as a social activity. Many mentioned that when
characters in teen movies are shown drinking, they are always with friends, and are often
at a party, which may reinforce drinking as a group activity or as normal social behavior.
Many added that the party scenes in each of the movie clips portrayed "typical teen life,"
which suggests that the movies reinforce, rather that motivate, the drinking behavior.
Males seemed to be the focus of each of the three movie clips, and while they were
interacting with females in each of the clips, it was mostly males that were shown
drinking alcohol, specifically beer. This may be sending a message to both males and
females, as far as social interaction and alcohol use. Females may perceive drinking
alcohol, or at least drinking beer, to be a masculine activity, while males may associate it
with "male bonding."
The role of the alcohol in each scene may also have contributed to social learning.
Many participants pointed out that in The Fast and The Furious Dominic took a Corona
away from another male character who was trying to cause trouble, and gave it to his new
friend Brian. In doing this, he punished the one character by taking the Corona away
from him, and made it seem like a reward for Brian, who had helped him. The positive
portrayal of Corona in this scene may cause teenagers to believe that a Corona is an
appropriate reward in a social situation.
The positive associations with alcohol in these scenes stood out to participants
more than did the negative associations. After the participants were informed that the
brand shown in Loser was Sam Adams, they did not associate it with the unfavorable
characters or references to date rape drugs in the clip. In the clip from Summer Catch,
Ryan ordered three Sam Adams and was shown giving them to two of his new friends.
Through this action, teens may associate making new friends with consuming alcohol.
Also in this clip, Billy started laughing and spit his beer out. While spitting something
out is usually a bad sign, in this scene it was related to humor, so teens may also
associated drinking with laughter and having a good time.
As previously mentioned, participants said they might try a brand that they had
seen in a movie, and would continue using the brand if their friends used it too. This
suggests that their brand choices are also a product of social learning. The participants
notice the brand, remember seeing it, reproduce the behavior and then, based on peer
approval, either stop using the brand or continue to use it.
It is interesting to note that the brands the participants drink most often are also the
brands they recalled seeing advertised the most lately. While it may be because the ads
influence which brands they choose to drink, it may also be because of their heavy
preference for malt beverages and the large volume of ads for this category. It is possible
that the advertisements are the main source of influence, and that peer approval and
movie portrayals may serve as reinforcements for consuming specific brands.
Those who do not currently drink, including those who plan to drink in the future
and those who do not, may have received strong anti-drinking messages through school
programs, parents or the media, which may be reinforced by their peers who also do not
drink. While it is highly likely that those who drink have also received these anti-
drinking messages, many anti-drinking messages only address the cognitive or motor
problems associated with alcohol use and "fail to discredit" the social and emotional
benefits of alcohol use (Lipsitz et al. 1993). Based on the fact that the participants who
drink think of drinking as a social activity, which is reinforced by their peers who also
drink, peer influence again seems to be the most important factor in social learning.
With regard to this study, social learning theory suggests that peers influence the
onset and continuance of drinking, while media portrayals may reinforce it. Alcohol
advertising may influence brand choice and lead to brand loyalty at an early age;
however, the fact that the participants could not recall many alcohol brands from movies
suggests that product placements do not influence teens' brand preferences, though they
may reinforce them.
The results of this study suggest that in order for product placements to be
successful, they must be part of a larger advertising or marketing campaign. The
participants did notice the specific brands of alcohol in two of the three movie clips;
however, they were more likely to notice the brands if they had already seen them
The participants did not have different evaluations of the brands based on the
context or scene in which they appeared. Previous exposure to the brands through
advertising messages and peer usage (or lack thereof) seemed to have the largest effect on
their evaluations of Corona and Sam Adams.
Placements will not be effective if younger participants have not seen the product
previously advertised, so a company should not rely on product placements to introduce a
brand to the public. Brands shown in movies should be part of a campaign that includes
Critics of product placement advertising should take note that teens do not believe
that placements are deceptive or that they are influenced by the placements. However,
critics of alcohol advertising may be justified in their beliefs that alcohol advertising is
targeting teens and that these ads may influence teens to drink.
While this study adds to the body of literature on teens and alcohol advertising, as
well as product placement, there were some weaknesses in the methodology. Because of
time constraints, the researcher was not able to show the participants a full-length film.
This might have allowed the participants to see placements for some non-alcoholic
products as well as alcoholic beverages and compare the two. The participants might not
have been able to recall the alcohol placements as easily after sitting through the entire
movie. Also, showing the three brief clips in a classroom did not compare to the
experience teens would normally have if watching it at home or in the movie theater.
The placement of the questionnaire during the focus group session may also be a
limitation. The questionnaires were given to the participants after the focus group
discussion, so the participants may have experienced priming effects after discussing
alcohol portrayals and alcohol advertising. Some of the participants may have reported
drinking more or less than they normally do, or drinking brands that they normally do not
There were also limitations in conducting a study with teenagers. They are more
likely to either conform, or agree with others in order to avoid standing out; they may
also express more extreme views than they normally would (Edmunds 1999).
Suggestions for Future Research
Alcohol use in teen movies can be studies in a number of other ways. This study
could be expanded by comparing the alcohol placements in teen movies to placements for
other general products. This would gauge teens' recall of placements in general and
suggest which types of products are most likely to get their attention. Another possibility
in studying alcohol placements would be to show participants clips with either no brands
(just cups) or both brands and cups, to see if they notice the brands or if they think they
see brands in scenes with just cups.
The effectiveness of product placements versus traditional advertising can also be
studied using teenage participants and showing them both television commercials and
clips from television programs or movies. This could be used to gauge recall as well as
determine which type of message is more effective.
Many of the participants mentioned the music industry's influence on their personal
style. Many also mentioned alcohol's prevalence in music, including brands that were
mentioned in songs or shown in music videos. Music videos should be studied to gauge
teens' attitudes and perceptions of the brands, both alcohol and general products,
mentioned in songs or shown in videos.
In conclusion, the knowledge gained from this research can be used as a base for
additional research on teens and alcohol advertising and alcohol placements in movies. It
provides a base of information on the ways teenagers notice and evaluate alcohol
advertising, product placements and alcohol placements, and how they view the alcohol
Gender: Female Male
How many movies do you typically see in the theater each month?
How many movies do you typically rent each month?
How many movies do you typically watch on cable television each month?
FOCUS GROUP QUESTION GUIDE
1. What do you like to do in your free time (activities, hobbies)?
2. How many of you have seen the first movie (name)?
a. Where did you see it (in the theater, on video, on cable TV)?
b. Who did you see them with (friend, sibling)?
c. How many times have you seen this movie (why if more than once)?
3. How many of you have seen the second movie (name)?
a. Where did you see it (in the theater, on video, on cable TV)?
b. Who did you see them with (friend, sibling)?
c. How many times have you seen this movie (why if more than once)?
4. How many of you have seen the third movie (name)?
a. Where did you see it (in the theater, on video, on cable TV)?
b. Who did you see them with (friend, sibling)?
c. How many times have you seen this movie (why if more than once)?
5. Is there anything in these clips that stands out to you?
6. When you watch movies, do you notice if there are brand names or generic
products being used?
a. Which movies? Which products?
b. How do you feel about seeing brand names in movies?
7. Did you notice any brand name products being used in these clips?
a. describe the scene
b. characters) using them
i. how old do you think the characters are supposed to be?
ii. do you like the characters?
c. how are the products placed in each scene (mentioned, consumed,
8. Does usage of alcohol in these clips say anything about the characters (brand and
type of alcohol)?
a. First movie
b. Second movie
c. Third movie
9. How do you feel about seeing the characters in these clips drinking alcohol?
Does it make you want to drink?
10. Do you think others are influenced to drink by seeing these characters drinking?
Do you think it influences what they drink?
11. Have you noticed alcohol use in other movies?
a. What movies?
b. Specific brands?
12. What types and brands of alcohol have you seen advertised the most lately?
a. Through what media (tv, radio, outdoor, magazine)?
b. Do you feel alcohol advertisements are directed towards you?
13. Have characters in other movies ever influenced your:
b. Support of social causes/issues?
c. Clothing or hairstyles?
e. Other behaviors (smoking, using condoms?)
14. Why do you think a company would put its products in a movie?
a. Have you ever seen a product in a movie and wanted to buy it or actually
b. Do you think others are influenced to purchase items they've seen in
c. Have you seen products you use in movies? How does it make you feel?
15. How do you feel about placements of brands of alcohol in movies?
a. Persuaded? Manipulated? Subliminal?
b. Good idea?
***DO NOT WRITE YOUR NAME ON THIS!!!***
1. How many movies do you typically see in the theater each month?
2. How many videos do you typically rent each month?
3. Over the past month I have done the following with my friends (please check all
Gone to the movies
Rented a movie
Attended a sporting event
Attended a concert
Gone to the beach
Attended a party
Consumed alcohol at a party
4. Do you ever consume alcoholic beverages (including beer, wine, liquor or malt
beverages)? (circle one)
5. If you answered "YES" to question 4, please answer the following, if not,
continue to question 8.
A. When did you start drinking alcoholic beverages (at what age)?
B. How often do you drink alcohol?
Once a week
Once a month
Every few months
C. Where do you usually drink alcohol?
D. When you drink, who are you usually with?
E. What kind of alcoholic beverage do you usually drink?
Other (wine coolers, malt beverages, etc.)
F. What brand(s) do you usually drink?
G. How much do you usually drink?
1 serving (bottle/can of beer, glass of wine, shot of liquor)
more than 6 servings
6. Have you ever been drunk? (circle one) YES NO
7. If you answered "YES" to question 6, please answer the following, if not,
continue to question 8.
A. How many times in the past six months?
*Now think of one time when you were drunk and answer the following:
B. Where were you?
C. Who were you with? (check all that apply)
D. What kind of alcohol was it? (check all that apply)
Other (wine coolers, malt beverages, etc.)
E. What brand(s)?
8. If you do not currently drink alcoholic beverages, do you plan to in the future?
9. If you answered "YES" to question 8, please answer the following, if not,
continue to question 10.
Within the next month
Within the next year
When I am in college
After I turn 21
I don't know
B. What type(s) of alcohol do you plan to consume? (check all that apply)
Other (wine coolers, malt beverages, etc.)
I don't know
C. What brands, if any, do you plan to consume?
10. Do your friends drink alcohol? YES NO
11. Do you think alcohol abuse is a big problem among high school students?
12. Age: 16
13. Gender: MALE FEMALE
14. What are your plans after high school?
Attend community college
Get a job
Join the military
Attend a university
IRB AND CONSENT FORMS
Institutional Review Board Form for study with teenagers
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD
1. TITLE OF PROJECT: Thesis on Product Placement of Brands of Alcohol in
2. PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Amy Bellin, Masters Student
700 SW 62 Blvd., Apt. B-24
Gainesville, FL 32607
3. SUPERVISOR: Debbie Treise, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Advertising, 2084 Weimer Hall
4. DATES OF PROPOSED PROJECT: August 1, 2002 July 31, 2003
5. SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR THE PROJECT: N/A
6. SCIENTIFIC PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATOR:
I have developed a focus group study with a brief questionnaire and question
guide. The results will serve as data for a master's thesis. The focus groups seek
to determine the attitudes and opinions of high school students on product
placement advertising, specifically the placement of brands of alcohol in PG-13
7. DESCRIBE THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY IN NON-TECHNICAL
Six or seven focus groups will be conducted at Atlantic High School in Delray
Beach and Boca Raton High School in Boca Raton to determine the attitudes and
opinions of high school students concerning the placement of brands of alcohol in
"teen" movies as a form of advertising.
8. POTENTIAL BENEFITS AND ANTICIPATED RISK:
There are no risks involved to participants. Participants will benefit by receiving
9. DESCRIBE HOW PARTIPANTS WILL BE RECRUITED, THE NUMBER
AND AGE OF THE PARTICIPANTS, AND PROPOSED COMPENSATION (if
Participants will be recruited through various classes at Atlantic High School and
Boca Raton High School. Prior to the focus groups, parental consent forms will be
signed by each participant's parent/guardian. The researcher will be available to
answer any questions via phone or e-mail. After parental consent is obtained,
focus groups will be conducted after school. Participants will be males and
females, 15-18 years old. Approximately 36 students will participate in one of
seven focus groups. Each focus group will contain 5-6 participants. The students
will receive extra credit for participation.
10. DESCRIBE THE INFORMED CONSENT PROCESS. INCLUDE A COPY
OF THE INFORMED CONSENT.
For participants under the age of 18, the informed consent process will consist of
informed consent of the participant's parent or guardian, as well as oral assent of
the participant. The parent's form is the standard IRB form attached. The
participant's form is written in slightly simpler language to ensure that each
participant understands the information.
(see the attached consent script and informed consent form)
Principal Investigator Signature Date
Supervisor's Signature Date
I approve this protocol for submission to UFIRB:
Department Chair/Center Director
Parental Informed Consent
I am a graduate student in the Department of Advertising at the University of Florida,
conducting research on teenagers' perspectives on product placement advertising.
Product placement advertising is the practice of placing branded products in movies or
television programs as a way to advertise those products. The purpose of this study is to
determine if teens notice product placements in movies and gain an understanding of how
they feel about them. The focus of this study will be placement of brands of alcohol in
movies directed toward teenagers. With your permission, I would like to ask your child
to volunteer for this research.
If you agree that you would like your child to participate in this study, he/she will be
asked to participate in a focus group asking about their perceptions of product placement
advertising in general, alcohol advertising, and placement of brands of alcohol in movies.
Short clips from PG-13 rated movies (The Fast and the Furious, Loser, and Summer
Catch) will be shown and a discussion on product placement will follow. This discussion
will take place after school and will last approximately an hour to an hour and a half.
With your permission, your child will be audio taped during the focus group discussion.
The audiotapes will be kept in a locked cabinet in a faculty member's office until they
have been transcribed, and then they will be destroyed. Your child will not be identified
in any way, as no identifying information will be solicited from them. Only the faculty
member, the transcriber and the primary investigator will have access to the transcripts.
The results of this research will be used in a master's thesis. You may request a copy of
the final thesis. After completion of the thesis all requested copies will be given to the
high school's administration office by May 2003.
All of the participants' answers will be confidential to the extent provided by law. They
will not be identified in any way. We are not asking for their name or any identifying
information. They do not have to answer any questions that they do not wish to answer.
They may stop at any time without consequence. Your child has the right to withdraw at
any time during this study. There are no anticipated risks for completing this study, but
their participation will be beneficial in providing the academic community with data on
teenagers' perspectives about alcohol product placement.
I will be providing refreshments for them during the focus group session.
This focus group research is being supervised by Dr. Debbie Treise, Associate Professor
in the Department of Advertising at the University of Florida, College of Journalism and
Communications. If you have any questions about this focus group, she can be reached at
392-9755. If you have any questions or concerns about the research participants' rights,
they can be directed to the UFIRB office, PO Box 112250, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; ph (352) 392-0433.
[ ] I voluntarily agree to allow my child,
to participate in a focus group on alcohol product placement in "teen" movies.
[ ] I do not wish for my child,
to participate in a focus group on alcohol product placement in "teen" movies.
[ ] I request a copy of the final thesis.
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to allow my child,
to participate in Amy Bellin's
study on alcohol product placement in "teen" movies, and I have received a copy of this
Child Assent Script
I am a student at the University of Florida and I am writing my master's thesis about high
school students. To write this paper, I need to talk to you about movies. If you or your
parents have any questions, you can call my supervisor, Dr. Debbie Treise, at 352-392-
If you agree to participate in this study, I will show you scenes from three PG-13 rated
movies: The Fast and the Furious, Loser and Summer Catch. Then I will talk to you
about those movies and any other movies that come to mind.
You do not have to tell me your name. You do not have to answer any questions that you
do not want to and you may leave at any time. This will take about an hour to an hour
and a half.
I am tape recording this conversation so that I can listen to it again. You will not be
identified on this tape. The only people that will listen to this are the transcriber, my
supervisor and myself.
SAMPLE FOCUS GROUP TRANSCRIPT
Transcription of focus group with high school students at Boca Raton High School. This
focus group consisted 6 males.
Q: Before we get started, I have to read this to you. I am a student at the University of
Florida and I am writing my master's thesis about high school students. To write this
paper, I need to talk to you about movies. If you or your parents have any questions, you
can call my supervisor, Dr. Debbie Treise, at 352-392-9755. If you agree to participate in
this study, I will show you scenes from three PG-13 rated movies: The Fast and the
Furious, Loser and Summer Catch. Then I will talk to you about those movies and any
other movies that come to mind. You do not have to tell me your name. You do not have
to answer any questions that you do not want to and you may leave at any time. This will
take about an hour to an hour and a half. I am tape recording this conversation so that I
can listen to it again. You will not be identified on this tape. The only people that will
listen to this are the transcriber, my supervisor and myself.
Does anyone have any questions before we get started? Okay. Well first of all, what do
you like to do in your free time? I'll start with you and go around the table.
A: I wish I had free time.
A: I play football and everything. Free time I try to rest.
A: Rest and talk on the phone.
A: I just go around with friends, hang out, when I have free time.
A: I like to rest, too...to hang out with friends.
A: Hang out with my friends and girlfriend, find trouble.
A: I like to, you know, hang out with my friends, like everyone else, and I like to, um,
stay home and play video games... and that's pretty much it.
Q: How many of you have seen the first movie? Fast and The Furious?
A: I did.
A: Yes ma'am.
Q: And where did you see it the first time? In the theater, on TV, video...?
A: Seen it in the theater, when the first Friday it came out.
Q: And who did you go see it with?
A: With...the football team.
Q: How about you?
A: In the movie theater, with, uh, my girlfriend.
A: In the movie theater with my parents.
A: Movie theater with my friends.
A: On video with my girlfriend.
A: On video with my family. My mom, and my dad, and my brother.
Q: How many times have you seen it?
A: Oh Lord. Um...would you count renting it, watching it over and over?
Q: Yeah, every time you've watched it.
A: In between 20 and 50 times, probably.
Q: And why have you watched it more that once?
A: I seen it in movie theaters three times with the football team, twice with my
girlfriend, then when I rented it on DVD, since I have a Playstation 2, I kept watching it
and watching it when I was bored.
Q: So why did you want to watch it more than once?
A: It was exciting.
A: I saw it, about... 50 times.
Q: And why did you watch it more than once?
A: 'Cause I learn something new about the cars every time.
Q: Okay, and why have you watched it more than once?
A: The action.
A: Like, three times. It was...like, exciting to watch.
A: I watched it just once. I liked it...it's a lot of excitement. And the girls, man. She's
A: I watched it, like, three times. I rented it. And um, I liked it because it was, like,
entertaining. It was, um...like it was a good movie. It was like...I can't (INAUDIBLE).
Q: And how many of you have seen Loser, the second movie?
A: I haven't seen it.
A: I did.
A: I haven't seen it.
A: I've seen it.
A: I've seen it.
Q: Okay, so just the three of you? And the first time you saw it, where were you?
A: Um...I saw it on, like, pay-per-view or something.
Q: And who'd you watch it with?
A: My cousin.
A: My girlfriend.
Q: Was it in the theater or...?
A: No. Video.
A: Home, pay-per-view.
Q: How many times have all of you seen it?
A: A couple.
A: Two or three.
Q: Why did you guys watch it more than once?
A: Nothing else to do.
A: Yeah. And it's like, a teen movie, so you got nothing else to do, put it in...
Q: Did you like it?
A: It was all right.
A: Not compared to the Fast and the Furious.
A: I didn't really like it, like the first time I saw it, I didn't really like it, but like, I had,
like, there was nothing else on TV, so I just watched it again, 'cause, like, they play the
movies over and over.
Q: Okay, and what about the third movie, Summer Catch? How many of you guys have
A: I saw it.
A: I saw it.
A: I saw it.
A: I haven't seen it.
A: I haven't either.
Q: Where did you see it?
A: I've seen it once, on pay-per-view.
Q: Who did you watch it with?
Q: How many times have you watched it?
A: Like twice.
Q: And who did you watch it with?
A: My brothers.
Q: And why did you watch it more than once?
A: Nothing else to do.
Q: Did you like it?
A: Not really.
Q: What about you? Did you like it?
A: At first it was boring, until towards the middle... I got into it.
Q: And how about you?
A: Um, the first time I saw it, I thought, like scenes were funny, like parts of it were
funny. And then I saw it, like, a couple more times, and like once was just because I had
nothing else to do. And, like, the third time, that girl, she gets in the swimming pool in,
like, her underwear. Like, just her underwear and her bra... and she's really hot.
Q: Was there anything in these clips particularly that stood out to you or that really
caught your attention?
A: I watch movies just because I hear there's, like, a hot girl in it.
A: Yeah. Or there's some (INAUDIBLE).
A: I'll go along with him.
Q: Girls and parties and stuff?
A: Yeah, 'cause, you know, (INAUDIBLE).
A: (INAUDIBLE), action, (INAUDIBLE)
A: I would say the action, yeah.
A: The action stands out. Also, like, the tension that builds up the movie. Like in Fast
and the Furious, there was tension because the new kid was trying to fit in and the old
people, friends, didn't like it. The girls, the alcohol. Most all three movies had all the
Q: Okay. When you watch movies, do you notice if there are brands names, as opposed
to generic products being used by the characters?
A: I do. Like, when they get up in the morning to, like, brush their teeth, like I notice the
mouthwash that they use isn't Scope, it says like Schope or something...
Q: Okay, so you have noticed that? Are there any specific movies you can remember
seeing that in?
A: Um, in like some of them, they, like... like, they walk out of the refrigerator and they,
like, grab the milk. I can't remember what movies...
Q: But you do remember seeing that. Okay. Yeah, basically with generics, like instead
of seeing a can of Coke or Pepsi, it will just say "Soda."
A: Oh, they do that so they don't have to pay the company. If you show them, their
name and their brand.
Q: Something like that. Have you noticed any brands in particular?
A: Like, the shoes that the guys wear. Like, if they're not wearing, like boots or
something, they're like...if they're wearing sports shoes they're, like, Nikes or Adidas or
A: Yeah, Nikes.
Q: Any brands or generics that you've noticed in any other movies?
A: Yeah, they always have nice cars. Mercedes...
A: No, not really.
A: Like in the Fast and The Furious, um, the engines, like, once I would see, like, an air
filter say, like, Canon (sp?) and on somebody else's car it wouldn't.
A: To me, well them three movies, I didn't see nothing that stood out, but it depends on
Q: Are there any movies that you've seen, that you can think of, that you remember
seeing a brand?
A: Yeah, some movies, most females try to wear Gucci. It be funny. Um, they try to get
the most expensive things.
Q: How do you feel about seeing brand name products in movies?
A: I like it, because, like, normally, like, most movies I see, the don't have the brand
name, it's just, like, cheap stuff...
A: ...And, like, if they're making a movie, they should try to make it, like, to the best of
their ability, so they put, like, get, like, the good stuff instead of generic.
A: I don't care if a guy's wearing Nike's or Kicks, Wal-mart walking. It doesn't make
a difference to me. It has nothing to do with the movie.
A: Yeah, same with him. Like, just the gist of the movie...it doesn't matter.
A: I would say the same thing.
A: Yeah, pretty much the same thing because it doesn't matter. They don't have no
impact on the movie, long as it's got action and point and interesting. Doesn't change the
Q: Did you notice any brand name products being used in these clips?
A: Beer. Corona.
A: Yeah, that's what I was going to say.
Q: Did you all notice the Corona?
A: Yeah (all).
A: Corona and (INAUDIBLE)
A: He gave him a choice of either Corona or... Bud?
A: Mm mm.
A: No, they both were Corona.
Q: Did you notice brands in Loser or Summer Catch?
A: No, well, he bought some kind of beer.
A: He bought some kind of beer, but...
A: I think it might have been Captain Morgan or something.
A: No, Samuel Adams.
Q: Which clip?
A: The last one.
A: No...oh yeah.
A: Summer Catch.
A: In, uh, Summer Catch, yeah, Samuel Adams, and Loser...I don't know what he had
but it was two cases.
A: In all three movies the clothing was like, almost, on the females it was almost the
same. It's just that...but it didn't say no name brand. It was just a particular style. It
was all the same.
Q: Okay. I want to go back to Loser for a minute. Did you notice a brand at all in there?
Q: You said you noticed the boxes that he was carrying...
A: Oh, I saw them, but, like, I didn't know what they were.
Q: Okay. It was actually Sam Adams.
A: Yeah, that's what I thought it was.
Q: How old do you think the characters in each of these clips were supposed to be?
A: About 20
A: In their teenage years. Like, 17 to 25.
Q: In all of them?
A: In Fast and The Furious they seemed to be...in their mid-30's.
A: They're older than 17...like in their 20's.
A: Fast in the Furious, like I think they were 30, 28, 29, yeah.
A: In the Fast and The Furious I think they were supposed to be, like, 25 or 26 or
something. And in Loser they were in college, so they were probably supposed to be,
like, 20, I guess. And in Summer Catch, they played for the baseball team, so, like, they
can't be too old... and they still hadn't gone off to play in the majors or anything, so they
had to be, like, 22 or something.
A: To me, all the characters ranged from 21 to 25, 'cause you gotta at least be 21 to
A:...all of 'em were ranged from 21 to 25. I don't think they'd be older.
A: Yeah, the drinking and then driving, you can't have, like all the sports and all that
Q: Do you think there's any chance that they were under 21?
A: Yeah, the guy that bought it in... Summer Catch?
A: yeah, that guy they called Einstein in Fast and The Furious, where he was like, 'hey
A: That Summer Catch guy
A: He was about 20
A: the one that bought the beer...he doesn't look it... he looked underage.
Q: You don't think he was 21?
A: Yeah. Just, like, the guy didn't care.
A: He was his brother.
Q: Did you like the characters in the clips that were shown? We'll start with Fast and
A: The bald...
Q: What about Loser? Did you like those characters?
A: The girls.
A: The girls.
A: Even though in Loser, I didn't see it, the clip that you showed got me interested, like I
wanted to see it, so yeah.
A: No, I don't like them.
A: Yeah, they looked kind-of funny.
Q: What didn't you like about the characters in Loser?
A: They were just stupid.
A: They try too hard.
Q: What about the characters in Summer Catch?
A: Yeah, they were ok. They, like, they act stupid, but it was comedy and action mixed
A: Yeah, I would say the same thing as him.
A: I liked the characters in Summer Catch. They were funny.
Q: Do you think the usage of alcohol in these clips says anything particular about the
characters? Specifically, the brands that they were drinking or what it was?
A: They like to party and get drunk.
A: Party and get drunk.
A: Yeah, in that age, you see that they like to drink and stuff, or like it's the thing to do
in that age.
A: 21 to 25, that's pretty much what they live to do, to go clubbing and partying and stuff
like that. Like, right now, as teenagers, we try to do it, but we're not allowed to, so we
can't do most things, but once you hit 21, or in between 21 and 25, that's your life right
there. It's going to be nothing but memories, so they do as much as they can. It doesn't
depend on the character. It doesn't say nothing because in none of those scenes you
haven't seen anybody get drunk to the point where they're going to throw up or
something like that. Like, in I think it was Loser, the girl tried a drug or something...
A: They spiked her drink.
A: Like, see, she didn't know that, so she got sick. Them other people, they wouldn't do
that to themselves, to like, take a overdose and hurt themselves.
Q: Well, you all noticed that Vin Diesel was drinking Corona. Do you think that says
anything about his character in the movie? Or the facts that he was drinking beer instead
of, say, liquor?
A: That's Mexican beer.
A: That's just his choice.
A: He just...it doesn't really matter, as long as it's alcohol.
A: No, 'cause he said you can drink Corona, that's it.
A: 'Cause all he had was Corona.
A: To me, throughout the movie, even though you just showed a clip, since I've watched
the movie so many times, that's probably one out of two scenes that you only caught him
drinking, so basically he was just a social drinker, so it wasn't nothing heavy, so it
doesn't change nothing about him.
Q: Okay. Do you think the fact his character was using it says anything about the brand,
as opposed to the brand saying something about him?
A: Oh, he's Mexican, maybe.
A: No, like since the movie was a hit, some people may go, be like, 'oh, he drunk
Corona, let me drink Corona.' Just like, after The Fast and The Furious came out, so
many people, were like, trying to their cars all hooked up and there's so many people that
end up dying, this and that. So movies do have a impact on teenagers.
Q: Does anyone want to add anything?
Q: Okay, what about the Sam Adams? I know in Loser it wasn't as prominent, but how
about in Summer Catch? They were all sitting around, you know, drinking Sam Adams.
Do you think that says anything about the characters? Or does it say anything about the
brand that those types of characters were drinking it?
A: No, I don't know why that guy liked Corona and (INAUDIBLE). Maybe it just tastes
better than other beers. I don't...it doesn't put together why.
A: I don't understand it either, because I'm not a drinker, so I don't know the difference.
A: I'd prefer Corona.
A: Corona, you see commercials about it. Sam Adams, you're saying it now, I still don't
know what you're talking about.
A: The guy with the brown hair...
A: No, I understand that. But Sam Adams, the drink, I never heard of that. Never seen a
commercial or no one drinking it or nothing like that.
Q: Actually, have any of you guys noticed or seen ads for Sam Adams?
A: I have.
A: Sam Adams? Yeah, they're on.
A: Oh yeah, I've seen, maybe, one, two.
A: They're rare, but...
A: They can't advertise it as much unless they make a lot of money on it.
A: You don't see as much as, like, Heineken and Bud Light.
A: Budweiser stinks...it's going down.
A: It's like Corona and Heineken are up there now. I see a lot of them commercials. I
don't see no more Budweiser.
Q: How do you feel about the seeing the characters in these clips drinking alcohol?
A: We know we're going to do it between 21 and 25.
A: You might.
A: You're not? You're not going to go to parties?
A: I go to parties now and I don't.
Q: Does it make you want to drink? Like maybe in the future or even right now?
A: It's so people do.
A: No, that's not an impact on us. We already...know we're going to drink by
A: Like, if you want to drink right now, you can drink. You just do it behind
A: Yeah. Long as you don't do it heavily or and stuff like that where you hurt yourself,
become drunk, pass out...like, I'm a sports player, I play football. I know when we go
out we see some of the other sports players drinking and we just knock the beer out their
hand to get them mad 'cause it's football season, you're not supposed to be doing that.
Like, off season, see, I can't say that I'm not going to drink when I grow up, but I don't
know the future. But it won't be nothing, like, other than social events.
Q: What about the brands that they were drinking? Would this make you want to drink
those brands more than anything else?
A: Pass the Couvassier.
A: Not really.
A: Oh, that's probably why...why they had... Corona probably had something to do with
Q: So how do you feel about that?
A: No, it's all about taste. They might want you to try and taste it.
A: I don't know. I don't think it would have an effect on someone and change their taste
Q: So you wouldn't go out and buy Corona because you thought Vin Diesel was cool?
A: No, not really.
A: I think it would. Not...it wouldn't make them go change their taste, but I think, if
they see him in the movies and more commercials of it, they'll go out and get it, just to
taste it, and like, if they see more people like it, they'll just switch over as peer pressure,
and stuff like that.
Q: So you think other people would be influenced by this?
A: Yeah. But that doesn't stand out. You gotta watch a movie, like, a million times to
catch the little things, 'cause I know when I watch a movie once, and then when I watch
it again, I'm like 'I didn't see that the first time.'
Q: Have you noticed alcohol being used in other movies?
A: Yeah, a lot of movies.
A: Everything, everything.
A: Most movies have drinking in them.
Q: Can you think of any specific ones?
A: Um... all movies. I can't think of one right now.
A: American Pie.
A: Yeah, American Pie.
A: American Pie.
A: American Pie, American Pie 2 and all them.
A: Like, all the comedy movies and stuff.
A: Yeah, like teen movies and that kind of stuff.
Q: Teen movies in general?
A: Not really, not all teen movies.
A: Yeah, not all teen movies, just like, some of them.
A: Like Varsity Blues.
A: Varsity Blues was awesome.
A: Some of the teen movies that's rated PG-13 that should be rated R, most of them,
Q: Okay. Have you noticed brands in any of those movies that specifically come to
mind? I know in American Pie there was a lot of drinking, but, were there any brands
that you noticed them drinking?
A: What brand is a 40? I see that in a lot of movies. What is that?
A: I don't know, I think I see them drinking out of, like, cups a lot. Not really cans or
A: Yeah, they don't really have anything in cups. Well, sometimes, at like a party there,
in the movie, they're having like bottles or red cups...
A: 'Cause they don't want to show it's off the tap.
A: They use a lot more kegs.
Q: Okay, so you were saying that there are a lot of PG-13 movies that you think should
be rated R. How do you feel about the fact that a lot of these teen movies have drinking
A: They don't need it so much. It doesn't really matter.
A: To me, since I'm older now, I really don't care, but like I got a lot of siblings. I know
if they would go out to watch it, I wouldn't want them to. Even though I know they're
not going to do nothing 'cause I'll kill them, but, I wouldn't want them to, 'cause...but
like there's laws that say you're supposed to be a certain age to watch a movie. Most
movie theaters don't even do that, they just let anybody go in now, so it really doesn't
A: Except for R, and like, they just don't let you buy the ticket, but it's not like they're
standing there guarding the door. You can just go in.
Q: What do you guys think?
A: Like, if my brothers watched that, I don't really care in general, 'cause they're gonna
eventually find out about all that grown-up stuff, but... I don't know.
Q: You think it's maybe a little too much?
A: But the movies shouldn't help them learn that.
A: Some, yeah.
A: My brothers are both older than me, so I don't have to worry about it.
A: It should show both side effects. There is no both side effects. It should show what
happens when you get addicted to it.
A: The same.
Q: I know you guys were just talking about this a couple of minutes ago...you
mentioned some kinds of brands of alcohol that you've seen advertised a lot lately. You
A: And, uh, Corona.
A: Heineken, Corona, Budweiser.
A: Corona, Captain Morgan's has a lot of ads.
A: Skyy Blue, Skyy Blue.
Q: In magazines?
A: No, Skyy Blue's got a commercial I've seen.
A: Yeah, Skyy Blue.
A: I haven't seen that.
Q: What about radio? Have you heard any radio commercials lately for any alcoholic
A: Um, no.
A: Mike's Hard Lemonade.
A: Yeah, Mike's Hard Lemonade.
A: Oh yeah, yeah.
A: That's, like, always on, so...
A: Spiked, Spiked Lemonade.
A: I've heard, like, a couple Captain Morgan commercials on the radio.
Q: What about billboards?
A: Mike's Lemonade, Captain Morgan has a lot of billboards, with 'the Captain was
A: On the way to Miami, there's, uh, a Heineken one, it's, like, it's a six-pack of
Heineken and it says, like, I don't know, it says, like 'people like our six-pack better' or
something and it has the six kegs.
A: Mike's Lemonade.
A: Mike's Hard Lemonade.
A: I don't see them as much as they used to be advertised.
Q: What about magazine ads?
A: Skyy Blue.
A: Yeah, I can go get a magazine in the classroom right now, you'll see about four
different pages and three different alcohols.
Q: Do you remember any specifically?
A: There was Skyy Blue in there, Corona, those were the only two that I've seen.
A: I like, rarely see beers in magazines, but, like, when I do, it's either Corona or some
kind-of, like, Crown Royale or liquor or something. Not beers.
A: Yeah, like he said, it won't be beers. It'll be the popular ones, like the ones that stand
out, but most of them is hard liquor.
A: And they use it with sexual ads.
A: yeah, the put, like girls in them.
Q: What magazines do you read that you've seen those ads in?
A: I got Source in the classroom. Source, Double X, L. It's another hip-hop magazine.
Q: Any of you guys want to add any other ones you've seen? Do you feel that these
advertisements are directed towards your age group?
A: They don't really put them in, like, teen magazines, but like, magazines that kids
read, like them put them in People and stuff. I rarely see them in People, but sometimes
they will, and like, other magazines. But they're not really directed at us, I guess, but
sort-of, like, everybody.
A: Yeah, they aim for, to me, they aim for 17, 18, and up, because they know that's the
next generation that's gonna be using their stuff. They don't care the side effects or
what's gonna happened to them, so they know that we're starting to have parties,
especially when certain times of year come around, they advertise more, try to get people
to do more things, so their product can go up.
A: During the SuperBowl there's always at least one alcohol.
A: One? One?
A: More than one.
A: Yeah, like Budweiser always has one on the SuperBowl.
A: But that's the SuperBowl, so...it's only once a year, you know what I'm saying?
Q: What about, um, do you think they're trying to reach anything older? You said 17
and older, you don't think they're maybe aiming for a 25 and older crowd?
A: Yeah, like... 17 to 30, but, like, they kind-ofjust want whatever money comes, they'll
A: Not really because once they hit you when you're 17, each generation when they're
17, 18, 19, and 20, they know that once they get used to it, and they like it, they're gonna
always use it throughout their life, no matter what. So they don't aim as much toward the
Q: Have characters in movies ever influenced any of your interests or hobbies or outside
A: Yeah. 'cause, like, before I saw fast and The Furious, I liked going fast, and then I
saw The Fast and The Furious, and I just wanted me to go out and buy a car and do all
that other stuff and then go out and race for money. Now, everybody's starting to do that,
and it's just getting stupid.
Q: Okay. What about you?
A: Actually, I just got this new game, it's called Pass the Pigs, it's not, like a, it's not like
a Playstation game or anything, it's like, like you rol the pigs and however they land, like,
that's how many points you get. Like, they showed it in a movie. I can't remember what
it was called, but it was this one where...Mark Paul Gosselar, they guy who played Zack
in Saved By The Bell, him and two of his friends were sitting around a campfire playing,
and like, it looked really fun, and they were, like, making bets about it. So I got that and
A: To me, yeah, I think so 'cause a lot of people change. Like, certain music videos,
movies and stuff like that. That makes a person dress a certain way, talk a certain way
and all that other stuff. I'm not gonna say I don't do it because I probably did throughout
my life so far. I did probably change 'cause a movie, but I don't think that's good 'cause
it hurts people.
Q: What about clothing or hairstyles?
A: Yeah, a lot of people, like, will go after, like the actresses' hairstyles, like, the girls.
A: The clothing.
A: I remember when, like...
A: Now music videos and movies, I don't know about the rest of y'all, a lot of, um,
Asian people, Caucasian, whatever, I'm not trying to be racist, they get their hair colored
now. African Americans and stuff like that, they get their hair braided. A lot of people.
I don't see why. It don't do nothing.
A: Well, uh, I forgot what I was going to say.
Q: Okay. I'll come back to you. Have any of you seen a style a specific style in a movie
and said 'I want to get my hair cut like this or I want to wear this type of clothes.'
A: Um, I got my hair braided for a year of my life.
Q: What were you modeling that after?
A: Ooh Lord. I don't think...I don't remember. I think Bone Thugs N Harmony.
A: Um, it was a music video if Mudvein and he had blue hair and it was in a surfer cut
and I said 'mom, I'm gonna go dye my hair,' and she said okay. Then I went to the
barber shop and I cut my hair the certain way that he had it and I dyed it.
A: When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came out, I was in, like, fifth grade or
something and I was looking for a hairstyle, and it had that guy on there, Angel. And
like, he put his hair up in the front, and like I started doing that, 'cause my cousin thought
it would be a good idea, and that's when it, like, started getting popular, and then, like,
everybody put their hair up in the front.
A: Also, with that, I recall when I was in sixth grade...when I was in fifth, sixth and
seventh grade, I used to... now I only wear one chain, but back then I used to wear, like,
8, 9 different chains. Now it's like it's why...I don't even know why I used to do that.
Q: Is there any language from other movie that you guys have picked up on that you use
around your friends?
A: Slang, a lot of slang.
Q: Anything specific from a movie?
A: Yeah, I know, like some people use, like, uh, to like, make fun of someone in a
movie, if, like they made fun of them that way, they'll use that same line to make fun of
Q: Can you think of anything specific?
A: I don't remember, no.
A: I can think of one, even though it's a long time ago. Little Rascals, when Alfalfa said
'You sissified tweety bird.' I said that to someone when I was little.
Q: What about behavior that they show in movies, like drinking or smoking, or even
messages against that? Have you noticed anything like that?
A: That really doesn't affect me. Like, I don't care what they're doing. It doesn't rub
off on me.
A: It's just a movie.
A: Well that's cool, like Cheech and Chong. That's funny.
A: I haven't seen anything, like, against it. I haven't seen any movies that are against
certain things. I just think they all promote it, which, yeah, there should be some against
it, but it doesn't rub off on me either.
A: Yeah. It doesn't affect me.
A: Not me neither.
Q: Okay. Why do you think a company would put its products in a movie?
A: So they can advertise it.
A: Yeah, advertising.
A: More advertising, and the know, like more people go to see movies and stuff, so, like,
if they're a certain age, they'll put that certain product on, like if they know someone will
watch it. Like, if it's a teenager movie, like they'll put something in there to, like get
teenagers to want to do that, to make money off of it.
A: To me, I don't think they specifically put it in certain movies. I think they go along
with the character, 'cause I don't think they see the movies when they allow the people to
use their product. Like, say if Lil Bow Wow is to go into a movie, they wouldn't put that
stuff in there 'cause they know he's a kid and he's nothing but 12, so there'll be little kids
watching his movie. But if it was someone, like, popular where they know a lot of teens
see that person's movie just because of that person, they'll put it in there, yeah.
A: Probably, like, the new Eminem movie will come out. They'll have a lot of stuff in
there, 'cause everyone's gonna see that movie.
Q: Have you ever seen a product in a movie and wanted to buy it or actually gone out
and bought it?
A: Um, my sister, we saw The Fast and The Furious and we went out, like, the next
week and we did, like, all that stuff that was on the Honda, and we did it to my sister's
A: No, not me.
A: I probably have but I don't remember.