Alcohol advertising and sponsorship in Formula One: A dangerous cocktail

Formula One alcohol sponsorship exposes audience to alcohol brands every five seconds.

A new report which presents data on the extent of alcohol advertising during the 2014 Formula One (F1) Monaco Grand Prix together with an analysis of F1 teams’ sponsorship by the alcohol industry was issued today by the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), Institute of Alcohol Studies (UK) and Monash University (Australia). The findings from the report show that alcohol sponsorship of F1 provides a platform for an extremely high exposure of alcohol advertising to audiences.

The report shows that during the 2014 Monaco F1 race, the pinnacle event of F1 there were on average 11 references to alcohol brands per minute. In other words – the worldwide audience of a total 500 million people were exposed to an alcohol brand on average every five seconds for almost two hours.

The authors of the report believe that the sponsorship practices they have researched clearly go against the spirit of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Furthermore, they also believe that the practices in F1 also go against even weaker voluntary codes set up by the alcohol industry itself. Eurocare has already raised the issue of alcohol sponsorship in F1 to Jean Todt, the President of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA), who then claimed no responsibility for the matter.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General in Eurocare says: “The amount of alcohol related exposure in F1 settings is extreme by anyone’s standards. There seems to be a lack of recognition within the F1 community about their responsibility when showing alcohol adverts every five seconds to an audience of 500 million viewers. We now urge the involved bodies in F1 to move away from alcohol sponsorship”.

Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, UK says: “Alcohol sponsorship of motorsport generates seriously mixed messages about drink driving and road safety, and contradicts the spirit of current EU rules on alcohol advertising. A common sense approach would be to stop alcohol companies from this risky business of sponsoring Formula 1.”

Dr Kerry O’Brien, behavioural scientist at Monash University, Australia, says: “Alcohol advertising and sponsorship appeared to be common in F1 racing, however, to date there had been no research on the extent and nature of alcohol advertising in this sport. The data clearly shows that alcohol advertising and sponsorship in F1 is extensive, at least in the Monaco Grand Prix. Its important that we further examine the extent and impact of alcohol advertising in F1, because its potentially very problematic given previous research showing an association between alcohol advertising and heavier alcohol consumption in young people. Policy makers can then be better positioned regards the need for tighter regulation or bans on alcohol advertising."

The report can be found here or accessed on Eurocare website

The report is the result of a pilot project addressing sport sponsorship, road safety and alcohol marketing, spring 2015.  The partners in the project have been the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Belgium), Institute of Alcohol Studies (United Kingdom) and Monash University (Australia).

For more information, please contact
European Alcohol Policy Alliance
Mariann Skar: Secretary General
GSM: +32 (0) 474 830 041

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