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Research shows alcohol advertising in sport fuels a drinking culture

Research shows alcohol advertising in sport fuels a drinking culture
April 30, 2019

Research from Monash University and the Parisien Laboratory of Social Psychology, the University Grenoble of Alpes (France) has found that repeated exposure to alcohol advertising in sport - either at venues or during media coverage of matches - can have long-term effects on drinking attitudes.

The research showed both a positive and casual link between alcohol sponsorship and alcohol-related attitudes, as well as the specific brand being advertised.

The study, How alcohol advertising and sponsorship works – effects through indirect measures, was published today in Drug and Alcohol Review.

The study was led by Dr Oulmann Zerhouni from the Parisien Laboratory of Social Psychology, with support from Dr Laurent Begue (University Grenoble of Alpes) and Professor Kerry O’Brien, Behavioural Sciences Research Laboratory (Monash University).

The alcohol industry accounts for roughly 20% of all sport sponsorships internationally. This is despite evidence showing that direct alcohol sponsorship of sport is associated with more hazardous drinking, and that large numbers of children are exposed to alcohol messages while watching sport.

Professor O’Brien “what we showed is that alcohol advertising and sponsorship not only send a message directly encouraging people to drink, but tends to implicitly and/or unconsciously associate a product, like beer, within a specific context of going to the football or watching a sports match on television."

Study lead Dr Zerhouni added “we also found that exposing people to an alcohol brand, and more strongly to a mainstream alcohol brand, leads to more positive attitudes towards alcohol more generally.

“Our results suggest that alcohol advertising and sponsorship exposure may change attitudes in an automatic fashion, because it doesn’t require an individual to cognitively process the advertising stimuli.”

As part of the study, 109 students from France were exposed to 10 minutes of a rugby match featuring one of three sponsorship conditions: a globally renowned beer; a domestic beer; or motor oil.

Researchers tested whether incidental exposure to alcohol marketing messages influenced their evaluation of brands and alcohol in general, and whether these decision-making processes occurred naturally. Alcohol consumption immediately following the experiment wasn’t analysed.

Dr Zerhouni added “we found evidence to suggest that the more popular the brand of alcohol, the greater the influence in changes to participants’ drinking attitudes. This wasn’t the case when the alcohol brand was relatively unknown, or if the sponsorship was unrelated to alcohol, in this case motor oil."

Because sports fans are repeatedly exposed to alcohol advertising and sponsorship when watching sport, Professor O’Brien said this was likely to have a long-term effect on their drinking that needed to be understood and addressed.

Professor O’Brien concluded “this is especially important for countries that allow alcohol marketing in sport programming during the day, when we know hundreds of thousands of children are watching."

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26th February 2019 - Baseball Australia becomes first sport to join the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign

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22nd June 2018 - Alcohol researchers report rise in domestic violence on State of Origin nights

5th April 2016 - Report says Australia is losing the war on obesity and alcohol

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

26th October 2014 - Alcohol, fast food and gambling dominate Aussie sport

18th January 2014 - Alcohol brands defend sports sponsorships

15th October 2013 - Cricket Australia criticised for rejecting anti-alcohol advertising in domestic one-day competition

27th October 2012 - Conference to explore drugs and alcohol in sport ‘the silent epedemic’

7th September 2011 - WA Venues move away from alcohol sponsorship

13th July 2010 - Health Charity adds pressure to alcohol and sport sponsorship debate

2nd September 2009 - Health Strategy seeks Ban on Alcohol Sponsorship in Sport


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