Extra.ie, Olivia Fah; 26/02/2023

After hearing there are objections to non-alcoholic drinks advertising at sporting events, Drinks Ireland has clapped back, claiming the talk is ‘unreasonable and strange’.

The comments were in response to Sheila Gilheany of Alcohol Action Ireland telling Newstalk Breakfast that these campaigns were essentially ‘backdoor marketing’.


She said: ‘[It is] the shared branding [that’s the issue]. The fact that the identical branding is being used with the non-alcoholic products and the alcoholic product with a very small zero.

‘Your principal impression is seeing the brand. I think it’s no coincidence now that we’re seeing it on the pitch and that these regulations came into play [in 2021].’


Heineken 0.0 branding at the Brazillian Formula One Grand Prix Pic: Get

The regulations in question are a ban on alcohol advertising in a place where a sports match is taking place, and many now believe that this should extend to the brands’ non-alcoholic offerings too.

When the ban was brought in, the Minister for Health at the time said that the ban was put in place to shield children from alcohol marketing and as a result, ‘limit the association of alcohol consumption with sporting activities.’

Drinks Ireland CEO Cormac Healy vehemently disagreed with Alcohol Action’s words and responded: ‘I think the comments of Alcohol Action Ireland are unreasonable and strange actually.

‘These new non-alcohol products are a positive development – both in terms of the choice that’s now being offered to consumers and also the offering that’s made available.


Guinness 0.0 branding at the 2023 Six Nations Pic: Rex

‘This is something that is consumer-led. There’s a demand for these products, and producers, at the end of the day, need to be able to advertise them if we want to encourage consumers to drink these products.’

The demand for non-alcoholic options has increased in the last five years, jumping from a 0.4% market share in Ireland in 2017 to 1.5% in 2021.

Healy recently told RTÉ: ‘Beer, for example, in the period from 2017 to 2021, we’ve seen a three-fold increase in the volume of sales. I think it’s part of an overall trend in moderation and balance.

‘We’re also seeing a change in attitude and approach of younger generations – Gen Z and younger millennials towards alcohol.


SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 13: Race winner George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes (C), Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes (L) and Third placed Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari (R) celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

‘Yes they do drink, but I think they have a different relationship with it – alcohol and drinking isn’t the centre of everything they do.’

Brands such as Guinness and Heineken advertise their 0.0 options during events such as rugby, football and Formula 1 events, but they’re not the only brand to dive into the non-alcoholic market in recent years.

Carlsberg and Birra Moretti have also joined in the fray when it comes to beers, and Gordon’s gin has also brought out an alternative to their alcoholic option.

Not to mention the Virgin Mary bar on Capel Street, which only serves non-alcoholic beverages and is often very busy.

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