I do think that alcohol advertising might have a great impact on minors. For example, in recent years there has been an influx of sweet, flavored alcoholic drinks. Alcohol used to taste bad to kids, unless it was mixed. Now mixed drinks and wine coolers are sold ready to drink. If these drinks are advertised to kids, kids many drink who may not otherwise do so.
I am surprised that there have not been restrictions on alcohol advertising put in place. I would think that the restrictions placed on tobacco ads would have paved the way for interest groups to ban alcohol ads also.
It's a fine legal and social line to draw when we start to restrict certain advertisements and not others. From a 1st Amendment, free speech standpoint, it seems like a pretty clear cut case of no, we should not restrict such ads. I, however, believe certain restrictions are both constitutional and reasonable.
Because advertisements have a target audience, limiting those ads targeted towards an audience under the legal drinking age is reasonable, because it encourages criminal and sometimes dangerous behavior. Placingan ad for whiskey, for example, on the Nickelodeon Channel is not only socially irresponsible, but encourages underage drinking. This would be a reasonable restriction.
It seems similar restrictions for ads for a brand of beer with the characters drinking while driving. Illegal and dangerous behavior is being promoted.
These are exceptions to our free speech rights that courts have generally upheld.
Personally, I do not think that there is much of a need to restrict advertising for alcoholic beverages. I do not think that advertising really does much to convince people to drink in general. It might cause people who are already going to drink to choose a certain brand, but I do not think that it is going to cause people to drink if they did not already plan to do so.
However, follow the link for a view that disagrees with mine.
In addition, I think that restricting alcohol advertisements would be questionable in terms of rights. If you can restrict ads for beer, why not restrict ads for fatty foods or for excessively sugary cereal?