Study Says Alcohol Sponsorship of Sport Has Little Impact on Binge Drink Culture

Sponsorship has been under fire from a few quarters since the Global Economic Crisis put marketing spending under increased scrutiny. In November, alarmist headlines called for sponsorship of sport by alcohol brands to be banned after a report suggested a link between sponsorship and binge drinking.

As Larry Ellison and BMW ORACLE appear around the world drenched in champagne after winning the America’s Cup, new research by Cardiff Business School’s Dr Fiona Davies argues that banning alcohol sponsorship would not have a significant impact on the UK drinking culture. The study, published by the International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, found that there were no significant statistical correlations between sportssponsorship awareness and attitudes to alcohol use.

Although boys with greater awareness of sports sponsorship were slightly more likely to drink alcohol, the extent of their engagement in sport was a much stronger predictor of intentions to drink alcohol and to get drunk.

Davies explains:

“Boys with sporting interests appear to be influenced towards drinking and drunkenness by the traditional macho sporting culture rather than the presence of alcohol sponsorship.

“Alcohol sponsorship does play a part in perpetuating and normalising this culture, and so has some additional influence. But the findings indicate that banning it would have little effect on the traditional male practices of drinking after playing sport, watching televised matches with a beer in hand and so on.”

Involvement in sport had no impact on girls’ attitudes to drinking, the survey showed.

“This may be because the sports which interest them are less associated with alcohol, or that they do not wish to subscribe to the traditional male sporting culture, even when they have an interest in traditionally more masculine sports,“ Davies said.

The study investigated attitudes to alcohol, sport and sport sponsorship among 14/15 year olds in a typical UK city.

The results suggest that banning alcohol sponsorship of sport would only have significant impact if it were part of a much wider campaign designed to break the longstanding links between sport and alcohol in British male culture.