As part of the statewide Top Spin Competition we asked a young member of the Bendigo community if there really was something to these 'sneaky' tactics used by some in the alcohol industry to influence people to drink. Thanks Belle for taking the time to answer a few questions from us .....

Tell us about yourself?

Hi! I’m Belle, a soon to be 21-year-old girl who wakes up daily and scrolls through Instagram like it’s the morning newspaper (which it totally is, isn’t it?).

I am currently in my third year of my double degree at La Trobe University studying Paramedicine/Public Health Promotion. Being fully immersed in that Uni environment means a cheeky little drink here or there (which I am totally here for!), but usually I am not the biggest drinker.

I absolutely love living a healthy and active lifestyle with my gorgeous mini sausage dog, Pretzel.

And I am a real sucker for a classic dad joke.

Let’s talk sneaky tactics. Where do you find alcohol promotion sneaking into your life?

Ah, an influencer’s greatest and latest must have accessory  ... alcohol!

What first started as a few sneaky little pictures here and there, has now turned into an abundance of A-grade influencers on Instagram flaunting their latest paid ad.

At the lower end of the scale you have your casual picture captioned ‘drinks with the girls’ while a group of gorgeous women are holding glasses of wine over a cheese platter (that honestly, even if you were lactose intolerant, you’d still demolish it). When you tap on the photo to see who’s tag, all the friends handles are displayed but there is no mention of the alcohol.

Then there is a huge jump to the other end of the scale where influencers are strategically holding bottles of vodka or cocktails promoting this lifestyle and behaviour. I mean, the other night an influencer that I follow did a whole story about how to make the perfect Espresso Martini. It was so obvious that they were being paid by this vodka brand to share this story, but not once did I see them say/type ‘Ad’, ‘Paid Promotion’ or ‘in collaboration’.

How do you feel about the way alcohol is promoted to you and other young people?

You know that emoji where it's rolling its eyes? Yeah, that is an accurate depiction of how I feel when I see this type of content being shared. Not everyone enjoys drinking. And since when did a girl’s catch up turn into an Instagram fest of wine and cheese platters? Gone are the days of catching up in PJs watching Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging for the seventh time. Young women are already placed under immense amounts of pressure at the hands of social media, why are we encouraging them that ‘drinking is super cool, and you will get so many likes if you post a pic with a drink in your hand’? It's disheartening and deflating. You wouldn’t post a picture endorsing cigarettes, so why would you promote drinking culture?

If you could change something about the alcohol industry marketing tactics what would you do?

By saying ‘we must remove all alcoholic content’ is simply unattainable and just not going to happen. However, we can make it so that on sponsored posts influencers must have a hashtag or disclaimer that it is a paid ad. This way, young girls can draw a line between ‘normal’ and ‘paid’ behaviour.

Thanks Belle!

To learn more about the Top Spin Competition and how you can take part click here