International evidence: sponsorship

International evidence: Is there a link between sponsorship and consumption levels?

A study on alcohol sponsorship in New Zealand by the Foundation for Advertising Research in 2006 stated that “it is clear from this review of the literature that the take-up of alcohol by adolescents and its abuse by some drinkers are multi-dimensional problems where the intense pressure from peers and environmental influences are of paramount importance”. The literature and reports in these areas are compelling and rigorous. The literature review found that the evidence suggests that alcohol sponsorship is an insignificant variable in the alcohol take-up or abuse equation and that if alcohol sponsorship was removed, “the social, economic, environmental and cultural capital of New Zealand communities would be eroded”.

A recent report by MR Marketing & Sponsorship Intelligence on 420 global sponsorships (2013), found no direct link between beer sponsorship spend and consumption. The data was analysed on a per capita basis. They analysed consumption, sponsorship spend and disposable income per head in all the major markets. There was a very clear correlation between consumption and disposable income, but no clear pattern regarding sponsorship spend and consumption.

A report often cited by proponents of a sponsorship ban is an Australian report, Alcohol Industry Sponsorship and Hazardous Drinking Among Sportspeople O’Brien KS and Kypri K, 2008,which suggested that participants in an event sponsored by an alcohol brand consumed more alcohol as a result of the connection. However, what is never mentioned is the fact that free alcohol was distributed at these events, so naturally an increase in alcohol consumption was recorded. Free alcohol is not distributed to participants in the events sponsored by alcohol companies in the Irish market.

The Loi Evin in France came into force in France in 1991. This law prohibited sponsorship of events by alcohol brands. In addition, alcohol adverts are prohibited in television and cinema. In 1992 and again in 2009, the law was loosened to allow advertising of wine on posters and on the web.

Alcohol consumption in France has been falling since the 1960s when consumption was over 20 litres of pure alcohol (LPA). According to WHO figures, the Loi Evin did nothing to accelerate the fall in consumption in France. Before the ban was introduced, alcohol consumption had fallen from 22.3 in LPA 1970 to 16.6 LPA in 1990. Five years after the ban, it had only fallen to 15.6 LPA and is now approx. 13 LPA. In fact, French teenagers are drinking more in recent years, unlike Irish teenagers who are drinking less.