A report issued Dec. 16 by the Center for Media Education claims that web sites promoting alcoholic beverages too often contain cartoons and other elements that could appeal to children.
Researchers who examined 77 alcohol sites from August to October found that 62 percent included features that children might find appealing, such as games, cartoon figures, or the use of “youth-oriented” language. One example cited by the report is a stick-shaped character named EZ, whose animated escapades appear on the web site for Southern Comfort.
Only one of the sites examined, Budweiser’s, contained any “substantive information” on alcohol abuse, the report said.
Kathryn Montgomery, president of the Center for Media Education, told the New York Times that such features seem designed to attract people under 21, the minimum age for purchasing alcohol in all 50 states. But representatives of the beer and liquor industries disputed her claims.
“The web sites are for people 21 and older,” Jeffrey G. Becker, vice president of alcohol issues for the Washington-based Beer Institute, told the Times. If some sites seem youthful, it’s probably more a reflection of the web’s being designed to be “fun and enjoyable,” he said.