An alarming number of Instagram’s most sought-after influencers featured alcoholic drinks in their posts without disclosing sponsorship deals, a study from VicHealth has found.
The research – which examined the top 70 Aussie Instagram influencers and their alcohol-related content – revealed popular profiles amongst young people are slyly contributing to alcohol promotion across social media.
Over 70 per cent of influencers featured alcoholic drinks in their posts in the last 12 months, with only 26 per cent fully disclosing when they had been paid by alcoholic labels.
VicHealth acting chief executive officer Dr Lyn Roberts said the research also found the alcohol industry frequently teamed up with non-alcohol brands such as active wear and festival events to enable influencers to promote their products without having to reveal a sponsorship deal.
“Our research shows the alcohol industry is employing tactics straight out of the playbook of Big Tobacco, using high profile influencers to make their products appear glamorous and sophisticated to young people,” she said.
“What’s most concerning is that influencers and brands can get away with not disclosing paid content, making it really hard for young people to discern when they’re being sold an ad.
“We also know that young people who like or follow alcohol brands on social media are twice as likely to drink at risky levels than those who don’t.”
In response, VicHealth has launched a competition titled “Top Spin” which encourages young people to “call out” alcohol labels that use devious tactics to promote their products.
“Top Spin is about turning the tables and encouraging young people to question the spin peddled to them by the industry,” Dr Roberts said.
“We know that 40 per cent of Victorians aged 18-34 drink at risky levels at least monthly. That might boost alcohol industry profits, but it’s bad news for the rest of us.”
She also highlighted the number of young Victorians who end up in hospital as a result of intoxication has increased by 24 per cent since 2009.
Top Spin is a state-wide competition.
For more information, visit vichealth.vic.gov.au/programs-and-projects/topspin.