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Alcohol industry uses social media to present drinking as an integral part of the sport experience

Alcohol industry uses social media to present drinking as an integral part of the sport experience
April 25, 2015

Australia’s alcohol industry is boosting its promotion through social media by timing its posts to major sporting events including the AFL, NRL and cricket, according to a just released study by RMIT University.

Speaking at the World Social Marketing Conference in Sydney this week and introducing the Merging Sport and Drinking Cultures through Social Media study, RMIT Associate Professor Kate Westberg explained “the ultimate goal appears to be to merge the drinking culture with sport culture.

“(The alcohol industry seeks) to normalise consumption by using social media to present drinking as an integral part of the sport experience whether spectatorship, celebration or commiseration.”

In Australia, alcohol can only be advertised after 8.30pm at night but a loophole sees drinks appear on coverage of major sporting events. In addition, social media is largely unregulated.

The Merging Sport and Drinking Cultures through Social Media study, was funded by the not-for-profit Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and carried out by RMIT University.

The study saw the RMIT researchers analyse Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and cricket seasons in 2013/14.

The study found that sport provides a powerful marketing platform for the alcohol industry, particularly when combined with the collaborative and immersive nature of social media.

This includes posing sports questions, using player endorsements and prompting fans to head to the pub when a game is about to start.

Many platforms encourage users to interact with sites by liking or sharing content which sees consumers themselves become unofficial marketers for alcohol companies.

The study looked at Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, XXXX Gold and Bundaberg Rum.

Brands use smartphone apps, push notifications, trivia and tipping competitions, celebrity endorsements, promotional merchandise, videos, memes and co-created content linked to sport to engage with consumers and gain access to their extended social networks.

Sport-linked social media strategies include a call to action encouraging competition, collaboration, celebration and consumption.

Commenting on the findings, Associate Professor Westberg added “the calls to action aim to stimulate consumers to actively engage with the brand, rather than passively receiving brand messages, as is the case with conventional advertising.”

In response to the study, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education highlighted how the online space is even less regulated than traditional media.

Foundation Chief Executive Michael Thorn stated “self-regulation isn’t working, it isn’t protecting children from harmful alcohol advertising and those harms will continue until such time that the Commonwealth Government steps in.”

Click here to view the Merging Sport and Drinking Cultures through Social Media study.

21st November 2014 - HEALTHY SPORTING CLUBS RECOGNISED WITH GOOD SPORTS AWARDS

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15th October 2014 - WA OPERA’S CARMEN SPONSORSHIP SMOKING ROW EXTINGUISHED 

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7th November 2013 - VILLAGE ROADSHOW LOOKS TO RMIT TO DEVELOP INTERACTIVE THEME PARK TECHNOLOGY

15th October 2013 - CRICKET AUSTRALIA CRITICISED FOR REJECTING ANTI-ALCOHOL ADVERTISING IN DOMESTIC ONE-DAY COMPETITION

7th September 2011 - WA VENUES MOVE AWAY FROM ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP


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