Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


School of Business

First Advisor

Maurice Murphy


In recent years, there has been increased concern about the level of alcohol abuse by Irish teenagers. Countless studies have shown that underage drinking is now becoming an epidemic. Up to 100 million young people around the globe are alcohol dependent and another 400 million drink to excess. Research has shown that early onset of alcohol use can lead to alcohol dependency, violence, absenteeism, crime and subsequent health problems. It is estimated that alcohol related problems cost the Irish economy €2.65 billion in 2003. Unfortunately, this alcohol problem is not going to vanish or disappear. Alcohol has become Ireland’s number one drug of choice. The National Youth Federation of Ireland (2003) states that the per capita consumption of alcohol in Ireland has increased 41% in just over 10 years (1989-1999). A study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies shows Ireland ranks third in world alcohol consumption with a rate of 9.7 litres of pure alcohol per capita. The extent and regularity of the use of alcohol among adolescents in Ireland is an issue that cannot be ignored nor an issue that will disappear. One Irish study (National Health and Lifestyle Survey, 2003) found that 1 in every 4 young people between the age of 10 and 16 years, drank alcohol in the last month. Not only are more adolescents drinking on a more regular basis (and in many cases binge drinking), but also their chances of getting addicted to the drug are increasing due to the earlier onset of alcohol abuse. Numerous social problems also accompany this. By focusing on social marketing and its application to the problem of underage drinking and more specifically by concentrating on social and physical threat appeals, this study investigates the merits of these appeals for younger audiences along with whether the arousal of fear is necessary to change behaviour. According to this study’s findings more effort needs to be put into socially responsible drinking advertisements for adolescents, specifically focusing on physical fear. Through the use of focus groups, the teenagers interviewed revealed that it was necessary to be “shook to the bone” by an advertisement for it to have an effect. Generally, it was found that alcohol consumption was the norm for the participants interviewed and that the use of a harm- reduction approach rather than a total abstinence approach would be more effective. 11

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Marketing Commons