Late last month, brewer Heineken announced to have extended its sponsorship deal with UEFA, the European football federation. The new deal ensures Heineken will continue to sponsor the Champions League. This agreement is expected to raise the exposure of young people throughout Europe to great amounts of alcohol marketing. A troubling prospect considering the it has been proven that alcohol advertisements incite young people to drink alcohol.

According to Heineken, the undertaking is an important part of their sponsoring strategy and will support the worldwide growth of the beer brand. The new contract gives Heineken more opportunities than before since the expansion will mainly be seen on the Internet, a medium that is very popular with minors. The new contract gives the beer giant the exclusive right to supply content for social media sites like Facebook and YouTube.

Over the past six years, Heinekens sponsoring of the Champions League has reached some 4 billion TV viewers in 220 countries. An annual report from competitor Carlsberg states that their brand names and logos were visible approximately 20 minutes per televised game during the world championship football in 2008. This shows what an important role sports sponsorship can play for alcohol producers and why Heineken sponsors so many sporting events. For example, later this year Heineken is sponsoring the Rugby World Championship in New Zealand as well as the European rugby cup, the Heineken Cup. Heineken is also the exclusive beer being served at the London Olympics of 2012.

In many countries alcohol producers and advertisers are only bound by voluntary rules concerning alcohol advertisements. This self-regulation prohibits alcohol advertising to young people and the displaying of an advertisement to an audience composed of more than 25% of minors.

Previous research by the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) has shown that at least thirty percent of visitors to various Dutch sporting events were minors. Now that Heineken will also be present on the web pages of the Champions League, it is expected that even more minors are exposed to alcohol advertising.

Source: 05/28/11

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