Alcohol featured on TV every 15 seconds during Ireland vs Scotland

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References to alcohol appeared on screen every 15 seconds during one of Ireland’s Six Nations Championship games at Aviva Stadium last year, according to a new study.

Research into the marketing of beverage brands at the famous rugby tournament found 1,444 references to alcohol in the two matches played in Ireland in 2020.

There were 690 refs, 3.8 per minute or once every 16 seconds, during the clash with Scotland, and another 754 refs, 4.0 per minute or once every 15 seconds, in the match against Wales.

New restrictions on alcohol advertising in sports are expected to come into effect on November 12 this year, as part of the Alcohol for Public Health Bill.

Study authors Dr Richard Purves and Dr Nathan Critchlow of the University of Stirling asked how the new Irish rules “might influence alcohol marketing practices in future iterations of the tournament”.

In Scotland, the numbers were higher, with 961 references seen during their clash with England at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

This averaged 5.1 references per minute of broadcast, or about once every 12 seconds.

In France however, which already has restrictions similar to those Ireland will implement, there were 193 references in their game against England at Stade De France in Paris.

This equates, on average, to 1.2 benchmarks per minute over the entire broadcast, or about once every 50 seconds.

However, the researchers cautioned against a practice of “alibi marketing” that has developed in France since the introduction of the Evin law, which bans sports sponsorship.

The study indicates that this practice uses “brand characteristics without explicitly referring to them – a practice which has also been used by tobacco manufacturers in sports.

“In France, Six Nations main sponsor Guinness uses the term ‘Greatness’ instead – with the same branding.”

The study found that this occurs in matches in France despite alibi marketing appearing to go against their regulations, which prohibit “advertising. [that] by design, the use of a name, brand, advertising emblem or other distinctive sign is reminiscent of an alcoholic beverage.

Alibi marketing made up 88.1% of references to alcohol in France’s match against England last year, but did not appear in any of the Irish matches studied.

Researchers say the use of alibi marketing in France will raise questions about the new restrictions Ireland is set to introduce this year.

“The continued presence of alibi marketing in France has implications for regulators and policymakers overseeing the new restrictions in Ireland as to whether alibi marketing will also be restricted under the wording of their legislation and what provisions are in place to monitor and enforce the restrictions, ”the study said.

Alcohol Action Ireland has called on the government to ensure that the practice does not spread in Ireland.

Managing Director Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “This is a great opportunity for Ireland to implement a public health policy that will reduce children’s exposure to alcohol advertising.

“As this report points out, the Irish government and public health officials need to be wary of the current loopholes we see in the French approach and ensure that our regulations protect against this.”

The Alcohol for Public Health Bill, passed in 2018, introduced a number of phased measures, including a minimum unit price, segregation of alcohol in supermarkets, and restrictions on advertising in supermarkets. schools nearby and on public transport.

On November 12, new restrictions will see a ban on alcohol advertising in a sports area during a sporting event, at events aimed at children or at events in which the majority of participants or competitors are children.

Research has shown that children exposed to alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age and to drink more later in life.

In the study, a reference was defined as any visual or verbal reference to alcohol or a brand of alcohol that lasted for a second or more during the broadcast or commercial break.

In all four shows studied, the references were mostly seen during the match and in high profile locations, including large static logos in the midfield and logos on match equipment, such as the ball and football posts. goal.

The Guinness Six Nations have been contacted for comment.

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