Watching this year’s NFL football playoffs and/or Super Bowl requires extensive viewing hours of TV commercials, which are often laced with themes representing beer, cars and/or trucks — Americana at its best.

One underlying theme presides during the commercials that interrupt the entertainment of huge men bashing each other, and that is the theme of alcohol. However, it was not like this years ago, because alcohol was prohibited. But like the camel in a tent parable, beer commercials have slowly become accepted, making their way not only onto TV sporting events, but also into our homes, implanting images in our children’s impressionable brains.

Perhaps we should add some discernment to the messages we are sending to our younger generations who look at star athletes as models of successful behavior. For example, if you look closely at some of the beer commercials, we see different themes represented.

For some, it may be nature, as in Rocky Mountain High, displaying clear sparkling water. The message tries to convince viewers that their product is acceptable, particularly when the clear mountain water is an ingredient in their beer and is actually good for you.

Then there are beer commercials that use the traditional hook as with the Clydesdale horses that represent power, beauty, and allegiance to traditional values, laced with caricatures of the good old days.

However, the most egregious of beer commercials comes with a beach scene and bikini-clad girls, partying with males who are equally buff. They show the magic of their product by dramatizing the message: those who drink our product are equally beautiful which could mean they could get lucky in more ways than one.

In other words, do we want to pass such images down from generation to generation, making this addictive product more acceptable?

Moreover, it is not by accident that connecting sex and sports to alcohol offers some of the most powerful ways to sell a product. In fact, rumor has it that when some advertiser was thinking of creating a  catchy beer commercial, the company decided on six-pack instead eight-pack because six-pack rhymes with sex pack — so the story goes.  It is no coincidence that Anheuser-Busch will have the most Super Bowl commercials in Super Bowl 2014, spending millions of dollars of TV time or about $3.6 million per 30-second commercial.

Conversely, what would happen if the Surgeon General of responsibility required that at least one TV beer commercial showed the other side of alcohol consumption? Instead of the innocuous slogan “friends don’t let friends drink;” why not show the real dangers of alcohol consumption to society. From the damage to the body to the effect alcohol has on the destruction of the family (37% divorce rate) to the human carnage on the highways.

Finally, with a Super Bowl USA viewing audience of over 61 million what percentage are children and adolescents. Those in power surely have dropped the ball. Let’s set the record straight.

To contact Dr. Sortino, email or call 707-829-8315, or go to his blog: Santa Rosa Press Democrat – Dr. David Sortino.


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