Cancerresearchuk.org; Angharad Kolator Baldwin; August 27, 2021
Two years ago, 8.9 million people tuned in to watch Wales win the Six Nations Championship, beating defending champions Ireland.
If you were one of those millions, you might remember over the competition Jonny May scored an impressive 6 tries or a controversial decision from a ref. But do you remember who sponsored the event?
For many, it would be hard to miss. Not only was the tournament branded the ‘Guinness Six Nations’, the alcohol company’s logo was everywhere from corner flags to steward’s uniforms.
While most will have had their eyes glued to the action, Guinness imagery made 3,415 appearances during the tournament and was on screen for 16% of total active play time, according to new research.
And it’s not just rugby fans that are encouraged to drink, Heineken are ubiquitous with the Euros, Asahi were spotted at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Heineken and Johnnie Walker branding appear during F1.
With alcohol causing 7 types of cancer, the abundance of alcohol advertising at sporting events is concerning.
Alcohol ads appeal to young people
A big concern is that alcohol adverts often appeal to those that are underage. As a result, rules have been introduced restricting commercial advertising of alcohol and alcohol content on TV, radio and social media.
However, despite existing regulation, a report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies shows that under 18s still have good recollection of various alcohol marketing campaigns, which is a concern as exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with starting to drink and subsequent use by adolescents.
One area that seems to have slipped entirely through the regulatory net is alcohol advertising during televised sporting events.
TV sports currently have unregulated alcohol adverts
Dr Alex Barker, a research fellow at the University of Nottingham, is an expert in analysing visual alcohol content in media and estimating people’s exposure.
His research, which investigates the tobacco and alcohol content in popular media, and subsequent exposure to advertising asks, aims to determine if current guidelines and regulations on tobacco and alcohol in the media are enough to protect children and teenagers from consuming them.
This year his lab published research looking at the general population’s exposure to Guinness branded alcohol marketing, during the 2019 Six Nations Championship.