A new report highlights how alcohol producers disregard the spirit of the law to circumvent local regulations designed to protect children during the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament. Researchers at the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, found over 100 alcohol marketing references per televised match programme in three countries – France, the UK and Ireland. Most marketing appeared in highly visible places, such as pitch-side advertising during the matches. This was the case, despite the fact that the tournament was held in France, where alcohol TV advertising and sports sponsorship is banned under the ‘Loi Évin’.
The report, Foul Play? Alcohol marketing during UEFA Euro 2016, was launched today at the UEFA Healthy Stadia conference at Emirates Stadium on Thursday 27th April.
An analysis of broadcast footage found that alcohol marketing appeared, on average, once every other minute. The majority took the form of ‘alibi’ marketing, whereby indirect brand references are used to promote a product, rather than a conventional logo or brand name. Carlsberg was the most featured brand, accounting for almost all references in each of the three countries, using their slogan ‘Probably the best in the world’ while avoiding the mentioning of the product name. ‘Alibi’ marketing was a common practice of tobacco companies in sporting events when advertising restrictions were introduced.
Commenting on the frequency analysis recorded and coded for the study, Eunan McKinney, Alcohol Action, outlined:
‘The data for Ireland showed the frequency of alcohol marketing was high with an average of 123 per broadcast. This equated to an audience exposure to alcohol reference once every 102 seconds during the sports broadcast.’
Dr Bobby Smyth, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Board Member of Alcohol Action Ireland, called again for a renewed government commitment to completing all stages of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which contains a series of measures to control and restrict alcohol marketing in Ireland:
‘This study shows that the drinks industry has absolute disregard for the spirit of the law, and demonstrates the need for a firm set of measures to restrict alcohol marketing, which are not only prescriptive but sufficiently robust to avoid ‘foul play’ evident in the findings of this report.’
‘Alcohol marketing in sport remains an important focus for evidence based research because of its effectiveness to influence drinking behaviour amongst an adult audience but also the impact on children yet to start consuming alcohol. There is now a significant volume of evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that children will start to consume alcohol, and drink more, if they already do so. Evidence shows that in Ireland this year alone, 60,000 children will likely commence their drinking careers.’
Notes to Editors
A copy of the full report is available here https://bit.ly/alcfoulplay
The ‘Loi Évin’ is the name given to the national law governing alcohol advertising and sports sponsorship in France. Its regulations apply to the marketing of all drinks that are over 1.2% alcohol volume, and is underpinned by three principles: media limitations, content limitations and informing consumers.
The research was carried out by the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, and funded by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), and Alcohol Action Ireland.
Alcohol consumption in Ireland
In 2016, alcohol consumption per capita in Ireland was 11.46 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15+ in 2016, an increase of 4.8% from 2015, when it was 10.93 litres. That is the equivalent of 41 litres of vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints of beer each year, per person aged 15+.
Health impact of alcohol harm in Ireland
- Alcohol is responsible for three deaths every day in Ireland.
- Alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides in Ireland.
- Alcohol related illness costs the Irish healthcare system an estimated €800 per annum.
- Every day,1500 beds in our hospitals are occupied by people with alcohol-related problems.
- Alcohol is a contributory factor in 38% of all driver deaths.