Case for Change

The alcohol industry uses sponsorship of sporting, cultural and social events as a key advertising strategy.  Sport is a key sponsorship avenue for alcohol in New Zealand, and includes naming rights, product placement, signage, logos on uniforms and equipment, and exclusive rights to sell alcohol at events.  Children are often exposed to alcohol advertising and branding through sporting events.  There is strong public support fro restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship.  In New Zealand and Australia, tobacco sponsorship of sporting and cultural events has been banned since the 1990s.

Alcohol sponsorship of sporting, cultural and social events is a key advertising strategy utilised in by alcohol companies.

In particular, sport is a primary vehicle for the promotion of alcohol in New Zealand.

Sponsorship in these settings may include:

  • naming rights
  • mentions in sports commentaries
  • signage
  • labelling on clothing apparel
  • exclusive rights to sell alcohol, etc.

Many local sports clubs also obtain sponsorship funds from alcohol companies. Research has found that New Zealand children are particularly exposed to alcohol branding during sporting events televised in New Zealand, with alcohol branding visible for nearly 50% of broadcast time on television [13].

Sports players sponsored by an alcohol product may be at particular risk of harm. This has been shown in New Zealand research whereby alcohol industry sponsorship of sportspeople, and in particular the provision of free or discounted alcoholic beverages, was associated with hazardous drinking [14].

Spend by alcohol companies on sponsorship

The amount spent on alcohol sponsorship in New Zealand is not that huge - about $23 million per year is spent by alcohol companies on sponsorship, of which only $13 million is direct cash investment. [15]

The major sporting bodies which receive sponsorship are rugby, cricket, basketball, football. Rugby takes the greatest proportion:  76% and 29% of the total revenue at the regional and community levels respectively.

This amount could easily be replaced by increasing excise taxes on alcohol and using part of these funds to replace sponsorship.

Taking away sponsorship will kill sport? No!

When tobacco sponsorship was removed, the world did not end.

Rather, in Australia, sponsorship revenue increased 45% in the year following tobacco sponsorship removal. [16]

Many sporting events in New Zealand, which were previously sponsored by alcohol companies, have found other sponsors to receive financial support (ASB Tennis Open).

Public opinion

From 2010-2014, strong public support  was found for restricting advertising and sponsorship [17]:

  • 80% supported restrictions on alcohol advertising to young people
  • 66% support banning alcohol sponsorship of events that young people may attend

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