Author: Olivia Belt, Korene Stamatakos, Amanda J. Ayers1 Victoria A. Fryer, David H. Jernigan and Michael Siegel
Title: Vested interests in addiction research and policy. Alcohol brand sponsorship of events, organizations and causes in the United States, 2010–2013
Journal: Addiction, 109: 1977–1985. doi: 10.1111/add.12727
Background and Aims: There has been insufficient research attention to the alcohol industry’s use of corporate sponsorship as a marketing tool. This paper provides a systematic investigation of the nature and extent of alcohol sponsorship—at the brand level—in the United States.
Methods: The study examined sponsorship of organizations and events in the United States by alcohol brands from 2010 to 2013. The top 75 brands of alcohol consumed by underage drinkers were identified based on a previously conducted national internet-based survey. For each of these brands, a systematic search for sponsorships was conducted using Google. The sponsorships were coded by category and type of sponsorship.
Results: We identified 945 sponsorships during the study period for the top 75 brands consumed by underage drinkers. The most popular youth brands were far more likely to engage in sponsorship and to have a higher number of sponsorships. The identified sponsorships overwhelmingly associated alcohol brands with integral aspects of American culture, including sports, music, the arts and entertainment, and drinking itself. The most popular brands among underage drinkers were much more likely to associate their brands with these aspects of American culture than brands that were less popular among underage drinkers.
Conclusion: Alcohol brand sponsorship must be viewed as a major alcohol marketing strategy that generates brand capital through positive associations with integral aspects of culture, creation of attractive brand personalities, and identification with specific market segments. Alcohol research, practice and policy should address this highly prevalent form of alcohol marketing.