A study entitled Foul Play: Alcohol Marketing During UEFA Euro 2016 shows the drinks industry paid little heed to the spirit of the law governing alcohol advertising, which in France, where the tournament was played, includes a ban on TV advertising.
Alcohol producers got around the regulations using “alibi marketing” — indirect brand references rather than the product name. Carlsberg used “Probably the best in the world” on electronic pitch-side advertising and was the most featured brand during the tournament.
Overall, researchers at the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, found more than 100 alcohol marketing references per televised match programme here, in Britain, and in France.
Responding to the findings, Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and board member of Alcohol Action Ireland, called again for a renewed government commitment to completing all stages of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which contains measures to control and restrict alcohol marketing.
Dr Smyth said the Foul Play study shows the drinks industry “has absolute disregard for the spirit of the law, and demonstrates the need for a firm set of measures to restrict alcohol marketing, which are not only prescriptive but sufficiently robust to avoid ‘foul play’ evident in the findings of this report”.
There is “a significant volume of evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that children will start to consume alcohol, and drink more, if they already do so”, he said: “Evidence shows that in Ireland this year alone, 60,000 children will likely commence their drinking careers.”
Progress on attempting to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland via the bill has been extremely slow. The bill was approved by Government in December 2015 and has only now completed second stage in the Seanad. It has faced ardent opposition from the drinks industry.