Over the years I have given alcohol advertising a lot of thought. When I was younger, I looked at these ads and was envious of the beautiful, sexy bodies that the models had. I used to think that if I drank that type of beer, I could look like them, have a man who looked like that and be living the ‘life’ of the young and restless. With age comes the realization that this is just marketing … it’s not reality. If I drink beer like they do, I won’t look like them or have the carefree, party lifestyle that is portrayed so prevalently in beer commercials. All my partner and I will have will be beer bellies … and beer bellies don’t just look bad, they are extra weight, which in turn is linked to an increased risk of chronic disease. What else have I learned? If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You can’t drink like that without putting your health at risk.
One of the stories that media love to cover is the relationship between good health and drinking. There have been so many of these types of stories that one would be hard pressed to find consensus on just what the health benefit is and how much one should drink to enjoy that benefit. In fact, drinking less than a standard drink per day will provide a health benefit for your cardiovascular system. However, if you really want to improve your health, you’d be better off eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and giving up smoking than starting to drink, or drinking more.
They drink like mad, they smoke like mad and they chase women like mad. Is it any wonder Mad Men is so addictive? Whether or not they really did carry on like that back then is a topic much discussed in media. Some say it’s not possible to drink like these characters and still function, while others in the advertising business remember these days and see them as wonderfully accurate. The era was before my time, but I once had a conversation with a friend who was raised in Don Mills, Canada’s first planned community. Her mom was a suburban housewife, a role depicted as somewhat oppressive in Mad Men, and when her businessman father returned home from the office, her mom had the cocktails ready. Today this lifestyle seems like a cliché, but it really was another time, before we knew that smoking kills, and that drinking beyond the low risk drinking guidelines can harm our health.