Six Nations Rugby Alcohol Advertising Review

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References to alcohol appeared on screen every 15 seconds during a Wales match in the Six Nations Championship 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.

These included the mark of the field, equipment such as goal posts and high level pitches around the field.

There were 690 referrals, 3.8 per minute or once every 16 seconds, during the clash with Scotland, and another 754 referrals, 4.0 per minute or once every 15 seconds, during the loss Wales 24-14 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin in February 2020.

In Scotland the numbers were higher, with 961 references seen during their clash with England at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. This amounted to, on average, 5.1 references per minute of broadcast, or about once every 12 seconds.

Ireland is due to introduce new restrictions on alcohol advertising in sports from November 12 this year, as part of the public health alcohol bill.

The UK currently has no legislative restrictions on alcohol companies sponsoring sports teams or events, with the marketing of the drinks being self-regulated by the industry.

While the self-regulatory code states that “beverage companies must ensure that there is a recognizable commitment to promoting responsible drinking,” research from the University of Stirling found that only 3.5% of referrals to the alcohol sponsor contained such a message in the clash between Ireland and Scotland – that figure falling to 0.4% of benchmarks when Scotland played against England.

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 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.

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

The study states that the practice uses “features that are branded without explicitly referring to it – a practice that has also been used by tobacco manufacturers in sports.

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

When the Welsh rugby team was sponsored by the Welsh brewery Brains, they replaced the company name on the front of their shirts with the word ‘Brawn’ to comply with French advertising regulations for a match in Paris. during the 2005 grand slam campaign.

In 2009, the marketing men took the regulations even further with “Try Trial” on the front of the jerseys. Essay translates to try in French, but when said aloud it should sound like “try SA” – the name of the brewer’s famous SA beer.

The study found that such advertising tactics occur during France matches 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.

Wales wore these shirts in France in 2007 which referred to an “alibi marketing” innovation from 2005 Photo: Huw Evans Agency

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 of the republic to ensure that the practice does not spread in Ireland.

Managing Director Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “This report stresses that the Irish government and public health officials must beware of the current loopholes we see in the French approach and ensure that our regulations protect against that.”

The Welsh Rugby Union, whose current jersey sponsor since July this year is online car retailer Cazoo, has business partnerships with Guinness, Heineken and Brecon Brewing.

None of the four professional Welsh rugby teams, which regularly play United Rugby Championship matches in Ireland, currently have a brewery as their main shirt sponsor, but they all have business partnerships with alcohol brands.

Ireland has already introduced measures such as the minimum unit price and the segregation of alcohol in supermarkets and, from November 12, will ban alcohol advertising in a sports area during a sporting event, at events intended for 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.

A turning point will also be introduced, banning advertisements on television and radio between 3 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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.

This article originally appeared on our partner site The National. Additional reports from James Ward, PA and Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland political editor

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