VicHealth declares war on alcohol influencers

April 9, 2019
By Alana House

VicHealth has announced it’s calling last drinks on undisclosed promotions by alcohol influencers on social media.

New research by VicHealth looked into the top 70 Aussie Instagram influencers and their alcohol-related content. It found almost three-quarters of influencers featured alcoholic drinks in their posts, yet only a quarter fully disclosed when they had been paid by alcohol brands.

The research also found the alcohol industry often partnered with non-alcohol brands like active wear and events such as festivals, allowing alcohol influencers to promote products without having to disclose their sponsorship.

There were 477 mentions of alcohol by Australia’s top 70 Instagram influencers over 12 months, with the most mentioned brand being Aperol.

“Alcohol brands prefer to partner with mega and macro influencers to deliver an average of three posts for a sponsored campaign, which are usually in the form of the influencer posed with a bottle of the alcohol in question,” the report found.

Macro influencers were defined as having between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, and mega influencers had 100,000 or more.

“Cocktails, wine and champagne are by far the most popular types of alcohol featured editorially and in sponsored posts,” the report said.

Social media celebrities including Bec Judd, Brooke Hogan, Pia Muehlenbeck, Davina Rankin and Sarah Todd make posts to their hundreds of thousands of followers featuring brands. 

“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,”
VicHealth Acting CEO Dr Lyn Roberts said .

While there are no rules that stipulate influencers must disclose sponsorship deals, VicHealth said it’s time for that to change.

In response, it is launching Top Spin, a competition that asks young people to look behind the glamour and the spin of alcohol influencers and share their thoughts about being targeted by brands.

“We want to empower young people to voice their concerns and spark a broader conversation about reducing alcohol product harm in our communities,” Dr Roberts said.

Top Spin is a five-week statewide competition with $1000 in prizes up for grabs each week for the most creative and thought-provoking entries.

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