Advertisers' group frothing over calls to banish booze money from sport
An Otago University academic wants the All Blacks to blow the whistle on their 31-year alliance with beer brand Steinlager.
The NZ Medical Journal has published research on Friday morning outlining the prevalence of alcohol advertising in televised sporting events.
The findings have led co-author Louise Signal to call for booze ads to be banned from sport to protect children from alcohol marketing.
"The really big issue in New Zealand is Steinlager's sponsorship of the All Blacks, and I do think it's time that [New Zealand Rugby] removed that sponsorship arrangement.
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"We know that when children see their sporting heroes promoting alcohol, that they're much more brand-loyal and, therefore, more likely to consume.
"Children see their sporting heroes linked with alcohol. In New Zealand, we have already agreed that alcohol should not be marketed to children by traditional marketing.
"Why should we allow it with sports sponsorship?
Former Kiwis rugby league coach Graham Lowe backed the call to show alcohol advertising in sport the red card.
"I know first-hand how difficult it is to fund sports, you're like a professional beggar ... but it is quite ridiculous to think that young people aren't affected or don't take notice of those ads during sport.
"Young people are loyal. They're loyal to their team. They're loyal to their favourite players. They're loyal to the sponsors, and that has an impact on them later in life."
However, the call for a ban was criticised by Association of New Zealand Advertisers chief executive Lindsay Mouat.
"Banning alcohol marketing is not a solution to underage drinking," he said.
"Calls for greater controls over alcohol advertising ignore the facts that consumption of alcohol is falling, particularly amongst younger people."
Mouat said there was "a poor correlation between advertising spend and total alcohol consumption".
The Otago research found Sky TV audiences of five sporting events across rugby league, cricket, football and tennis during the 2015-16 summer were exposed to as many as 200 alcohol ads an hour.
Only advertising during game time was recorded. It included ads on things such as hoardings, goal posts, corner flags and players' uniforms.
During last year's Australian Open men's tennis final broadcast, alcohol brands were seen 777 times.
Steinlager's relationship with the world champions was established in 1986, prior to world rugby's move into professionalism.
New Zealand Rugby entrenched its links with Steinlager in March 2014. A deal running until 2020 includes an extensive partnership for this year's British and Irish Lions tour.
When approached for comment, NZR referred to its submission to the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014.
In it, NZR chief executive Steve Tew warned against stripping sports clubs of a vital source of investment, potentially threatening their viability.
Lowe chaired the panel that recommended stripping all sporting events, stadiums, teams and television spots of alcohol-related sponsorship.
"I am not a wowser or anything – I enjoy alcohol as much as the next person," the father of teenage twin boys said. "But we're getting smarter as people, and this is a smart thing to do.
"Walk down Queen St or any major city street in New Zealand and see a young 12 or 13-year-old staggering around and affected by alcohol.
"If that doesn't do something to your heart, well, you aren't a Kiwi," Lowe said.
Sky TV declined to comment.
ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP IN NZ SPORT
Rugby: All Blacks – commercial partner, Steinlager
Rugby league: NZ Warriors – principal sponsor, Woodstock
Cricket: Black Caps – commercial partner, Tui
Football: Wellington Phoenix – fan zone sponsor, Garage Project
Netball: Silver Ferns – partner, Brancott Estate
- Audio courtesy of RNZ
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