June 18, 2018
Budweiser’s World Cup Ad Campaign on Snapchat Is Dangerous for Public Health
Statement of Kristen Strader, Campaign Coordinator, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert
Note: This week, Budweiser is rolling out a new campaign on Snapchat that effectively turns users’ faces into advertisements for the company. The campaign will start in the U.K. today and be pushed out globally on June 24.
Budweiser immediately should halt its plans to ramp up advertising for alcohol on Snapchat as part of its global World Cup marketing campaign. Snapchat is the most popular social media platform for teenagers in the United States and, because age is self-reported on the platform, it is impossible to guarantee that underage users are not exposed to Budweiser’s alcohol ads. A user who is 14, for example, could easily report that they are 21, effectively bypassing Snapchat’s age gate.
While some alcohol companies have committed to not advertising on Snapchat for that reason, Budweiser has turned a blind eye to the public health risks and instead has increased its presence on the teen-focused platform in its biggest marketing campaign for the World Cup.
Budweiser should be ashamed that it is putting profits ahead of the health and safety of youth. One of Budweiser’s new marketing tactics – branded face filters – effectively turns a user’s face into an advertisement for the company as they endorse the brand to their followers – without knowing that they are part of a marketing gimmick. Creating filters that also interact with packaging encourages excessive consumption, which is not the message that we should be sending to youth. Even worse, there is no doubt that some underage users will access the filters due to the unreliability of Snapchat’s age gate, encouraging them to become brand ambassadors and lifelong consumers of Budweiser. Other features of Budweiser’s new marketing campaign encourage users to interact with the brand on Snapchat throughout the World Cup, further encouraging brand loyalty to Budweiser.
Alcohol advertising simply does not belong on Snapchat. Budweiser has a responsibility to keep its advertising away from children, not to plaster ads for alcohol where children and youth spend much of their time.