7 Marketing and the drinks industry |
Scale and types
156. Expenditure by the alcohol industry on marketing
and promotion is large and far more than expenditure on health
promotion marketing and advertising. In the UK the total expenditure
on alcoholic drinks advertising on television, the radio, in the
press, outdoors, and in cinemas is about £200m.
Total spending on marketing communications by the alcohol industry
was estimated to be £600-800m (including sponsorships, product
tie-ins and placements, contests and sweepstakes, and special
by the PM's strategy unit in 2003.
157. In 2006 49% of alcoholic drinks advertising
was spent on television advertising. Between 2004 and 2006, there
was an increase in the number of commercial spots aired on television:
367,000 in 2004, 412,000 in 2005 and 442,000 in 2006.
Lager products had the highest proportion of total commercial
spots for alcoholic drinks in both 2002 and 2006 (25% and 30%),
with cider/perry accounting for the biggest rise in share of the
sector in 2006.
158. Television is only part of the alcohol marketing
communications strategy. Several witnesses commented on a growing
trend away from traditional forms of direct advertising in the
print and broadcast media to other forms such as sponsorship,
competitions and special promotions. We were told that new media
were becoming more popular, for example text messaging to mobile
phones and social network sites. Viral marketing and viral advertising
are increasingly important. These terms refer to marketing techniques
that use social networks to produce increases in brand awareness
or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales)
through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread
of pathological and computer viruses. The 'virus' can be delivered
through word-of-mouth or may take the form of video clips, interactive
games, "advergames", ebooks, or text message.
During our inquiry Price Waterhouse Cooper reported that the amount
companies spent on internet marketing was greater than traditional
print advertising for the first time.
159. The sponsorship of sport and cultural events,
many with a particular appeal to the young, has become a key promotional
vehicle for alcohol. Alcohol drinks companies were the second
largest source of sponsorship funding from 2003 to 2006, behind
the financial services sector.
In 2006, financial sources accounted for 19.2% of sports sponsorship,
alcoholic drinks 11.6% and sports goods 10.2% of active deals.
Forty-nine of the 71 UK sports sponsorship deals included in the
analysis were paid for by the brewing industry, with the rest
by other alcohol producers.
Below we list a number of alcohol industry sports
| Table 3: Examples of alcohol industry sports sponsorship deals, 2008
|| Sport sponsorship deal
| Carling lager
|| Title sponsorship of the Football League cup in England and shirt sponsorship of Glasgow's Celtic and Rangers Football Clubs
| John Smith's ale
|| Title sponsor of the Grand National plus other race days at the majority of UK racecourses
| Magners Irish Cider
|| Sponsors two British rugby union teams, was title sponsor of a rugby union league championship for Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and hosted a golf championship in Wales and in Scotland
| Guinness stout
|| Title sponsor of an English rugby union league
| Johnnie Walker whisky
|| Formula One McLaren Team sponsors
| Stella Artois lager
|| Title sponsor of a London tennis tournament for 30 years, ending 2008
| Carlsberg lager
|| For 17 years, until September 2009, Carlsberg sponsored Liverpool FC
Source: BMA, Under the Influence (2009) (modified)
160. Both the Football League and the Premier League
are sponsored by the drinks industry. The Football League currently
relies more heavily on such sponsorship and has been sponsored
by Carling since the beginning of the 2003-2004 season; its involvement
is set to continue until the end of the 2012 season.
161. In addition, Carling sponsors the Football League's
Carling Cup. The partnership between The Football League and Carling's
parent company, The Molson Coors Brewing Company (UK) Ltd, is
the longest running competition sponsorship in domestic football;
having sponsored the Carling Cup competition for nine seasons
and the Worthington Cup for a further five.
162. According to its website, Carling's involvement
with the Football League has supported fan interaction with the
competition through initiatives such as "The Fan's Final"with
all of Carling's contractual tickets being made available to fans
at the 2006 and 2007 finals and the introduction of fan perimeter
designed boards at the 2009 Final.
163. The Premier League has organised the top-flight
football competition in England since 1992. In that period attendances
have grown by 60%. Media rights are now sold to every territory
in the world, generating £1 bn per year and the Premier League
has become the world's most-watched regular domestic sporting
164. The Premier League website is sponsored by Budweiser
which also sponsors the Fantasy Premier League component of the
site. The Premier League website does not carry Budweiser advertising
beyond the brand name and logo and a link to Budweiser's own site.
165. Of the teams in the Premier league only Everton
FC is currently sponsored by an alcohol producer. Liverpool FC
has recently announced that it will end it association with Carlsberg
as its shirt sponsor from the end of the current football season
in May 2010. Earlier this year Everton and the Thai-based Chang
Beer struck a second sponsorship deal, valued at £8 million
over three years. The current deal, worth £4.5 million, expires
at the end of the season.
166. There is little shirt sponsorship by alcohol
companies. Within the last few years Tottenham Hotspur has ended
its sponsorship arrangement with Holsten and Newcastle United,
which until May 2009 was a premiership club, was sponsored by
Newcastle Brown Ale, but is now sponsored by Northern Rock).
167. Commercial arrangements with alcohol companies
- Pouring rightsthe exclusive
right to provide alcohol for sale at football grounds
- Official supplier statusthe right to be
known as the official supplier to or commercial partner of a Club
or the Premier League
- Sponsorthe right to be recognised as a
sponsor of the Club or the Premier League or of a specific Club
or Premier League activity (such as sponsoring a website)
- Shirt Sponsorthe right for the name of
the company to appear on the team shirts
- Advertisingthe right to commercially acquire
advertising space in Club or Premier League media, such as matchday
programmes, pitchside displays, websites, and display boards at
168. The regulatory codes are described in the table
below. Ofcom regulates television programme sponsorship. The ASA
('the UK self-regulatory for maintaining standards in advertising')
regulates advertising, including TV (excluding programme sponsorship),
radio, press, poster, direct mail and paid-for advertising on
the internet. The advertising codes are written and maintained
by CAP and BCAP, which consist of representatives of broadcasting
and advertising organisations.
Their membership is shown in the Box below. The Portman Group
regulates packaging and various other forms of promotion, including
sponsorship (excluding programme sponsorship), branded merchandise,
press releases, and non-paid for advertising on the internet.
In other words, the Portman Group seeks to regulate any marketing
which is not otherwise regulated by Ofcom or the ASA.
169. David Poley, Chairman of the Portman group,
told us that
"The regulatory system may appear fragmented
but the division of responsibilities, however, is logical. The
ASA regulates all advertising in 'paid-for' space; it cannot,
for example, take over responsibility for regulating alcoholic
drinks packaging without simultaneously taking on responsibility
for regulating all product packaging including that of food, electrical
goods, etc. The Portman Group, meanwhile, cannot for example take
over responsibility for regulating alcohol advertising on TV because,
apart from anything else, the ASA has a legal responsibility for
this. This fragmentation does not mean, however, that there are
necessarily any shortcomings with the present regulatory system."
Table 4: Summary of UK regulatory system applying
to drinks producers' marketing activities
|| Advertising Standards Authority
|| Portman Group
|| Television programme sponsorship
[Also broadcast editorial standards]
| All advertising, e.g.:
● direct mail
● paid-for internet advertising
● mobile phones (SMS and Bluetooth)
| All other alcohol producer marketing activities, e.g.:
● sponsorship (excluding TV programme sponsorship)
● press releases
● brand websites
● producer-generated point-of-sale materials
| Nature of system:
|| Co-regulatory (broadcast)
| Rules written by:
|| BCAP, but approved by Ofcom (broadcast)
| Portman Group
| Adjudicating body:
|| Independent ASA Council chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury
|| Independent Complaints Panel chaired by Sir Richard Tilt
| Funded by:
|| Advertising industry
|| Drinks producers
|Composition of the BCAP Committee|
According to the ASA the BCAP is a listed company made up of: Advertising Association British Sky Broadcasting Limited Channel 4 Television Corporation Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited Clearcast Direct Marketing Association Electronic Retailing Association UK GMTV Limited Incorporated Society of British Advertisers Institute of Practitioners in Advertising ITV plc Radio Advertising Clearance Centre RadioCentre S4C Satellite & Cable Broadcasters' Group Teletext Limited Virgin Media TV
Composition of the CAP Committee
According to the ASA the CAP Committee is made up of: Advertising Association Cinema Advertising Association Clearcast Direct Marketing Association Direct Selling Association Directory and Database Publishers Association Incorporated Society of British Advertisers Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Institute of Sales Promotion Internet Advertising Bureau Mail Order Traders Association Mobile Broadband Group Mobile Marketing Association Newspaper Publishers Association Newspaper Society Outdoor Advertising Association Periodical Publishers Association Proprietary Association of Great Britain Radio Advertising Clearance Centre Royal Mail Scottish Daily Newspaper Society Scottish Newspaper Publishers Association
170. We were told that following the publication of the 2004 Alcohol
Strategy, in 2005 Ofcom and the ASA strengthened both the broadcast
and non-broadcast advertising codes significantly and the ASA
was consulting again.
171. The ASA told us that its rules were
exceptionally robust, especially in relation to the
protection of young people and vulnerable groups. They were tightened
significantly in October 2005, in response to the 2004 Alcohol
Harm Reduction Strategy, which suggested a possible link between
young people's awareness and appreciation of alcohol advertising
and their propensity to drink.
The ASA added that it did not 'just wait for complaints
to come in, but pro-actively monitors ads on a daily basis across
all media for compliance with the Codes. It concentrates its activities
on high profile sectors (such as alcohol) or sectors with low
addition, CAP provides a free pre-publication advice service for
advertisers, agencies and media, called Copy Advice. The team
dealt with about 225 alcohol ad queries in 2008.
172. Advertisers that breach the Codes face financial
loss from having an ad campaign pulled and damage to reputation
through the publication of upheld adjudications, which attract
media attention. Compliance with ASA adjudications is extremely
high. For those few advertisers who refuse to comply, industry
and other pressures can be brought to bear. For example, poster
pre-vetting can be imposed and direct marketing companies can
have benefits such as Royal Mail bulk mailing discounts removed.
Although very rare, in serious cases of non-compliance, advertisers
can be referred to the statutory authorities, for example to the
OFT for action for unfair or misleading advertising, or to Ofcom
for action against broadcasters.
173. The Portman Group informed us:
The Portman Group's Code of Practice applies to the
naming and packaging of alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities
of drinks producers, including press releases, websites and sponsorship.
It ensures that such activities are carried out in a socially
All complaints made under our Code are heard by an
Independent Complaints Panel. This Panel is chaired by Sir Richard
Tilt, former Director General of the Prison Service; none of the
Panel works in the alcohol industry.
Since the Code was introduced in 1996, over 70 drinks
have been found to be in breach of the Code. Failure to comply
with our Code results in a drink being removed from sale.
The views of supporters of the
existing regulatory regime
174. Supporters of the existing regulatory regime,
which includes the drinks and advertising industries as well as
the regulators, argue that
- the codes work
- the codes ensure that advertising is not 'targeted
on young people'
- the Sheffield University study of the effect
of price and promotions on alcohol consumption shows advertising
does not have much affect on sales: advertising is about persuading
people to switch between brands.
These views are much disputed.
EFFECTIVENESS OF CODES
175. The ASA and Ofcom argue that complaints about
alcohol adverts are few and not many are upheld. The ASA told
us that their guidelines were robust and there was not much of
a problem. Guy Parker, the Chief Executive of ASA, told us: "we
received just short of 400 complaints about advertising last year.
Those complaints were not just about alleged problems under the
specific and strict alcohol rules; most were complaints that ads
were misleading or offensive under the general rules in the codes.
Of those 400 complaints 200 related to alcohol ads or campaigns.
Those 200 cases represent about 1% of the total and equate almost
perfectly with the proportion spent on alcohol ads."
176. He added that the vetting of adverts on TV and
radio before they went out was a particularly effective way of
ensuring that the codes were effective:
Our content, scheduling and placements rules are
strict. They were further strengthened in 2005, in part as a result
of the government's alcohol harm reduction strategy. We do a lot
more besides just assessing and if necessary investigating and
upholding complaints. TV and radio advertising, not just alcohol,
is pre-cleared by two organisations: Clearcast and the radio advertising
clearance centre. On the non-broadcast side we operate a copy
advice service that gives a lot of advice to advertisers etc who
want to check whether their ads and campaigns are okay under the
rules. Last year we received over 200 written inquiries from alcohol
advertisers and agencies wanting to make sure that their ads and
campaigns complied with the rules, but we also put a lot of emphasis
on the more proactive side of things, for example regular monitoring
of all ads particularly those relating to alcohol. In 2006, 2007
and 2008 we undertook fairly extensive alcohol compliance surveys
where we looked at a representative sample of alcohol ads and
assessed them against the rules to check compliance. Compliance
rates have varied a little. In 2006 the rate was 95%. That is
the lower end of what we regard as acceptable. We put quite a
lot of effort and resource in talking to the industry to explain
where we think it is going wrong and how they can ensure that
its ads and campaigns comply with the codes. The compliance rate
picked up a bit in 2007; it was 97%."
177. However, many witnesses recognised that regulations
on "new marketing" (e.g text messaging, social network
sites etc) were lax and needed tightening. The ASA informed us:
The ASA and the advertising industry are aware of
the need to future-proof advertising self-regulation so that online
marketing material is regulated with the same sense of social
responsibility as in traditional media.
178. The main focus of our evidence on sponsorship
in this inquiry was football sponsorship. The Premiership defends
its involvement with alcohol sponsors:
We consider that it is appropriate for the Premier
League and its Clubs to be active in this market provided that
full regard is given to both the spirit and letter of the relevant
regulations. Although income from alcohol-related sources is only
a small proportion of total revenues it contributes to the continuing
economic success of professional football in England. Deloitte
estimate that total revenues of the 92 professional Clubs in the
Premier and Football Leagues were over £2.5bn in 2008/09.
This income led to a contribution to Exchequer finances of around
£860m in that year. It is likely that with continued growth
in income and with changes in tax rates the Exchequer contribution
will reach £1bn in 2010/11.
179. According to its submission, the Premier League
and its clubs always seek to operate in a socially responsible
We have a conservative interpretation of compliance
with Portman Group and related codes, seeking to be clearly within
the rules at all times. We do not test the boundaries of those
rules nor do we lobby to have them changed. During the consultation
around the question of alcohol branding on child-size replica
shirts we noted the absence of any evidence linking such branding
with alcohol consumption by the young but nevertheless fully comply
with the subsequent changes to the Code.
The Football League told us:
I cannot comment on the exact amount because it is
a commercially confidential contract, but it would be fair to
say it is a significant seven-figure sum that we receive from
our alcohol sponsor
It is about a third of our total sponsorship
We only have one of our clubs that has an alcohol
brand on its shirt, and that is Chesterfield.
We work very
responsibly with them [Carling] to ensure that the messages they
send out are targeted at people who are allowed to drink and it
promotes sensible drinking. At the Football League we have a veto
on anything that we would find inappropriate.
the benefits that a sponsoring company gets are enhanced
by the way they activate it. In our case we work very closely
with our sponsors to make sure that sponsorship is activated responsibly
and promotes messages about sensible drinking.
TARGETING YOUNG PEOPLE
180. There is widespread agreement that there must
be effective controls on advertising to young people. A review
by the advertising regulators Ofcom and the Advertising Standards
Authority (ASA), published in October 2007, found that current
controls have been effective in preventing advertising that is
targeted at young people. However, it also found that young people
were more likely to say that adverts made drinks look appealing
and that they would encourage people to drink.
EFFECT ON SALES
181. The drinks industry claimed that the Sheffield
study showed that marketing had little effect on sales, but the
author of the report told us:
The focus of our attention on both adults and youngsters,
rather than just young people. This is in recognition that advertising
may play a larger role in influencing the continuation of drinking
behaviours in existing consumers than in the inception
of new drinker groups. From a population harm perspective,
this distinction is crucially important. However the evidence
base on advertising effects on adults is both smaller and weaker
than for underage drinkers.
I think this explains why our evidence statements
are overall more cautious than that of authors who focused on
Evidence statement 5 of the Sheffield report: states:
There is conclusive evidence of a small but consistent
association of advertising with consumption at a population level.
There is also evidence of small but consistent effects of advertising
on consumption of alcohol by young people at an individual level.
The views of health experts
182. Several of the witnesses to our inquiry disagreed
with the drinks industry and regulators. Their argument was that
the codes are ineffective because the rules, albeit enforced by
the ASA and others are not adequate to protect the young: the
quantity rather than the content of advertising has greatest effect.
This is particularly true for children. Moreover, advertising
has a cumulative effect in the long termeven if sales don't
show immediate response.
ADVERTISING, PROMOTION AND YOUNG
183. Even if the codes are followed, it does not
necessarily mean that advertising does not encourage people to
drink, especially young people. Professor Anderson, who has undertaken
a review of studies of the links between consumption and advertising,
noting that alcoholic drinks sales were driven by vast promotional
and marketing campaigns, told us:
"Alcohol is marketed through increasingly sophisticated
advertising in mainstream media, as well as through linking alcohol
brands to sports and cultural activities, through sponsorships
and product placements, and through direct marketing such as the
Internet, podcasting and mobile telephones. The Science Group
of the European Commission's Alcohol and Health Forum recently
concluded that alcohol marketing increased the likelihood that
non-drinking young people will start to drink, and the likelihood
that existing young drinkers will drink in a more risky fashion."
According to the BMA too, a substantial body of research
has found that alcohol advertising and promotion influences the
onset, continuance and amount of alcohol consumption among young
184. Professor Foxcroft told us about a review of
studies of the effects of alcohol advertising:
She [Dr Smith] concluded that the data from these
studies included in the systematic reviews "suggest that
exposure to alcohol advertising in young people influences their
subsequent drinking behaviour. The effect was consistent across
studies. A temporal relationship between exposure and drinking
initiation was shown, and a dose response between amount of exposure
and frequency of drinking was clearly demonstrated in three studies.
It is certainly plausible that advertising would have an effect
on youth consumer behaviour as has been shown for tobacco and
185. This evidence about the effects of the drinks
industry's promotional activities on young people has been drawn
from econometric and consumer studies. Early attempts to measure
the impact of alcohol advertising on young people relied on econometric
studies. These examined the correlation between the amount of
advertising taking place in a particular jurisdiction and the
amount of alcohol being consumed. These studies have mainly found
little or no evidence of advertising influencing young people.
186. Consumer studies examine advertising from the
perspective of the young person, thus emulating the commercial
marketer who uses consumer research to both guide the design of
advertising and measure its effect on the target group. The measurement
of effect involves looking for connections between exposure to,
and appreciation of, advertising, and drinking knowledge, attitudes
and behaviour. Such studies have shown consistent links between
marketing communications and young people's drinking.
187. In particular, longitudinal studies, which follow
up respondents over time and are therefore capable of teasing
out cause and effect, have demonstrated that advertising does
encourage young people to drink sooner and more heavily. All the
major forms of mass media advertisingpress, television
and billboardshave been found to have an effect. A longitudinal
study currently being undertaken as part of the National Prevention
Research Initiative (NPRI),
illustrates just how pervasive communications about alcohol have
become. The research has interviewed a cohort of 1,000 teenagers
at age 13 and again at 15 years old. Three quarters of the teenagers
surveyed at age 13 were familiar with television advertisements,
and two thirds sports sponsorship. Nearly half were found to own
alcohol branded merchandise and, when shown masked prompts, the
vast majority could name the leading brands: Carling (95%), Smirnoff
(93%) and WKD (91%). Research conducted as part of the NPRI study
illustrates the extent to which teenagers in the UK are aware
of alcohol, alcohol brands and related communications (see figures
12 and 13 below).
Figure 12 - The impact of alcohol marketing communications
on UK 13 year olds
Source: *Unpublished data from Wave 1 of Hastings
et al NPRI study; Gordon R (2007) Alcohol marketing &
youth drinking. 63rd Alcohol Problems Research Symposium,
November 7-8, Kendal.
1 Respondents are
shown colour pictures of five alcoholic drinks that have the name
covered up. For each one, respondents are asked by the interviewer
what make or brand they think it is.
Figure 13 - Analysis of marketing documents of drinks'
industry and their advertising, new media and PR companies
|Types of advertising seen
||13 year olds (2006)
||15 year olds (2008)
Clothing (sports tops)
Sponsorship of TV & Film
Social networking sites
|Number of channels
188. The ASA/Ofcom review referred to above makes references to
'kidult marketing' which 'blurs the fixed lines between adults
and children' and to 'alcohol advertisements that play on the
boundary of adult and teenage behaviour to bring the teenage and
adult world closer together appear to have strong appeal for young
ANALYSIS OF MARKETING DOCUMENTS OF DRINKS' INDUSTRY
AND THEIR ADVERTISING, NEW MEDIA AND PR COMPANIES
189. In view of concerns raised about the effect of the marketing
activities of the industry, we sought from the producers, their
advertising agencies, PR companies and new media companies internal
marketing documents relating to a number of campaigns. We asked
Prof Hastings to analyse these documents and his analysis is published
as a memorandum.
190. Professor Hastings found that the documents:
reveal major shortcomings in the current self regulatory
codes covering alcohol advertising. Specifically, the codes do
not, as they are supposed to, protect young people from alcohol
advertising; prevent the promotion of drunkenness and excess;
or the linking of alcohol with social and sexual success. Nor
do they even attempt to address sponsorship, and the documents
show this is being systematically used to undermine rules prohibiting
the linking of alcohol with youth culture and sporting prowess.
Finally, the codes are extremely weak in their treatment of new
media which are rapidly become the biggest channel for alcohol
The result is a regulatory system that is impossible
to police and vulnerable to exploitation.
191. We took oral evidence from some of the organisations
which supplied the documents. We were particularly concerned about
documents which implied that campaigns set out to get people drunk'Pub
Man's needs' seemingly include turning into a comatose 'Alpha
Male' and 'shots' are 'used to crank up the evening'
and 'to get blasted'. In the evidence sessions the
witnesses from the organisations dismissed these charts as ideas
that were rejected at the planning stage.
192. The Committee was also concerned that the Advertising
Codes' prescription of any association of drinking with masculinity
was being broken by a planning document for an alcopops called
WKD which was headed 'Male Targeting' and talked about
ways to communicate maleness and personality. This led to the
following exchange with one witness who attempted to parse the
difference between maleness and masculinity:
Sandra Gidley: Turning to page 19, that is a planning
brief from earlier this year. This is again the WKD brand. The
importance of advertising and campaigns to communicate maleness
and personality. Under the code you are not allowed to use masculinity.
What is the difference between masculinity and maleness?
Ms Carter: What you need to understand is that RTD
[Ready To Drink] as a category has always been predominantly very
female focused in terms of a lot of the brands being targeted
at women. We saw that there was an opportunity to bring to market
a product that had male appeal. For us, it is not about being
overtly female as opposed to overtly male. For example, we would
not ever do a promotional link with makeup. That is why we would
associate with the Nuts football awards that my colleague spoke
about earlier. It is about engaging with our male consumers in
things that they are interested in.
Sandra Gidley: What is the difference between masculinity
Ms Carter: You can be involved in areas that males
are interested in without overtly saying, "I, WKD, am a male
product." To communicate maleness would be the Nuts football
awards. Nuts is part of the male press so that is an opportunity
for us to talk to male readers. The fact that it is in a male
piece of media means that it is not viewed as being overtly female
Sandra Gidley: Why does it not fall into the masculinity
category? I am struggling to find the dividing line between maleness
Ms Carter: What we are talking about is that often
maleness can be placed into the media. It does not have to be
us creatively talking about maleness. It can be the Nuts football
awards, using male press. Communicating maleness can be done by
using male platforms as opposed to a creative look that says,
"I am a male brand."
Sandra Gidley: Is this not in effect though a brief
that says, "Go as far down the maleness route as you can
without breaching the masculinity code. Push it a bit"?
Ms Carter: No, not push it a bit at all. We operate
within the codes and the codes are there for a reason. We welcome
them because they give us a framework to work within."
We also asked whether the same brands sponsorship
of the Nuts football awards contravened both the masculinity/femininity
rule and another rule saying alcohol can not be associated with
sporting success. WKD's representative denied that there was any
"Charlotte Atkins: I thought that there was
some sort of ASA code which actually talked about not linking
up with sport, sex and so on. Would that linkage not transgress
Ms Fuke: The initiative we are talking about is a
sponsorship and the sponsorship is not focused on the brand itself
but it is sponsorship of football awards and Nuts football awards
are about sponsoring or encouraging people to engage with football
and we simply support that and this sponsorship initiative is
managed through equally important guidelines, so a marketing activity
would be related to that in terms of content, style and tone.
Charlotte Atkins: But you are aware that there is
a code which suggestsin fact forbids the association of
alcohol with sporting success and with masculinity and sex.
Ms Fuke: This is not about sporting success and masculinity;
this is awards which are irreverent that the fans make to the
people who have played all through an injury or the best chant
on the terraces.
Charlotte Atkins: So basically it is a way of linking
up with football without transgressing the code?
Ms Fuke: I am sorry?
Charlotte Atkins: It is a way of linking up men's
obsession with football without transgressing the code?
Ms Fuke: I do not believe it conflicts with the code,
193. Our other major concern was that protection
for young people was inadequate. In the Committee's evidence session
of 9 July Howard Stoate MP showed that controls on accessing sites
such as Smirnoff and creating user-generated content were lax.
Q632 Dr Stoate: Are you at all worried about
the fact that children clearly are able to access this with no
difficulty whatsoever? So far as you are concerned, that is fine;
whether they should or not is irrelevant; you think it is okay
that they do.
Mr Gill: No, because the
content that is there is for adults only, and that is within the
framework and the best working example that everybody has in the
industry, not just in the UK or in alcohol, but globally, that
is until such point where we can get national identity, perhaps,
or biometrics scanning that actually proves that you are over
Dr Stoate: That is clearly
nonsense, because anybody can get access to it who wants to, even
with a date of birth that does not exist. It certainly does not
give me confidence. I think this committee will certainly be taking
a view on whether we think the situation is tough enough. Thank
you very much, Chairman.
194. Witnesses who believed that existing controls
on marketing were inadequate proposed two main solutions
- A ban on many forms of marketing
- More effective controls, in particular restrictions
on new media and an end to the system of self-regulation.
195. Several witnesses, including the President of
the RCP, Professor Anderson and the BMA, proposed a ban on advertising
and sponsorship along the lines of the 'Loi Evin' in France. We
went on a short visit there to see how effective the ban in France
had been. The key aspects of the French legislation, which has
been in place since 1991, are
- no advertising is allowed on
television or in cinemas;
- no sponsorship of cultural or sport events is
- advertising is permitted only in the press for
adults, on billboards, on radio channels (under precise conditions),
at special events or places such as wine fairs, wine museums.
196. However, no thorough evaluation has been carried
out of the effectiveness of the ban so it is not known whether
the ban has directly contributed to fall in alcohol consumption
in France. Alcohol consumption in France was falling before the
Loi Evin and is still falling, but the rate of fall has not changed.
197. An additional problem is that new media is increasing
in France as elsewhere and is difficult to control.
198. As we have seen, the drinks industry argued
that the Sheffield study showed there was no case for a ban. We
questioned Dr Meier who said that the evidence was too weak to
come to a conclusion:
"In terms of interventions, codes and bans are
typically designed to protect young people and any effects of
bans on adults remain largely unknown. In practice, only France
has introduced a comprehensive ban but no convincing evaluation
was carried out.
199. The Sheffield report stated
There is an ongoing methodological debate on how
advertising effects can and should be investigated and there is
also a need for further research to establish whether advertising
definitely influences consumption. We should have a clearer picture
of the effectiveness of current UK controls on alcohol advertising
when phase 2 of the ScHARR review is complete. At that point,
the Government as a whole will consider whether there is a need
for further action.
200. As we have seen, the Sheffield report was concerned
with the population as a whole; Professor Gilmore, Professor Anderson
and the BMA pointed out that tighter controls on the amount of
alcohol advertising will protect young peopleand as the
Sheffield report itself notes, the effects of advertising are
greater on this group.
201. In view of the French ban on the alcohol industry's
sponsorship of sporting and other events, we questioned the Minister
and the Premier League and Football League about sponsorship.
In July, the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe MP indicated to the
Committee that he was not persuaded of the need to impose restrictions
on alcohol advertising of sport. We questioned him about the possibility
of a ban on shirt sponsorship.
Q940 Chairman: One of the codes that people
are supposed to use states that we should not associate alcohol
with sporting success. Why would somebody sponsor a shirt of a
Premier League football team if it was not to show that their
product, no matter what it is, is concerned with the success of
the football team as opposed to Bradford City, I suppose, or Rotherham
United? Why would anybody sponsor a team in the football premiership
if it was not to relate to sporting success, given that is where
the shirt sponsorship is?
Mr Sutcliffe: I accept
that they want to advertise their product. Is the next step then
to say to Premiership League teams that they cannot have shirt
sponsorship? Are we trying to affect the ability of clubs to bring
in sponsorship? I think you have to be careful here. I take Howard's
point that if the evidence overwhelmingly proves a situation,
then the Government has to act, but again we have to have the
evidence that proves that. My consistent phrase today is proportionality
and making sure that we do the right thing.
Q941 Chairman: But we have evidence on tobacco
and advertising was banned throughout the United Kingdom. Has
Mr Sutcliffe: That evidence
was clear and it was clear that that was the obviously route to
Q945 Chairman: You do not think that having
a product on a Premier League football team shirt is advertising?
Although I may watch it on my television, you do not describe
that as advertising?
Mr Sutcliffe: Not in the
way that you are suggesting, that it affects young people.
Q946 Chairman: What is it then?
Mr Sutcliffe: It is a
sponsorship of that team, is it not?
Q947 Chairman: The named brand is there to
see. Is it brand promotion? Is brand promotion not advertising?
What is it?
Mr Sutcliffe: Clearly
it is advertising in the context of sponsorship of that brand.
I think the argument here is: does that affect and go outside
what is a very strong code in relation to Ofcom and the ASA? Clearly,
I am suggesting that we will reinforce the discussions with Ofcom
and the ASA about that point and report back to the committee.
MORE EFFECTIVE CONTROLS
202. Two issues were of particular concern As we
have seen, there is considerable concern about the effect of new
media on the young.
We questioned Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Minister of Sport) about this.
He rejected proposals to bring closer legal constraint on digital
I accept the new media that there and that technology
will develop even further in the years to come. DCMS have been
looking at Digital Britain and what is likely to happen. As a
government, we have continued to encourage voluntary codes. We
do not feel that there is at this stage the need to go further
but it is something we keep under review and we will obviously
reflect on what this committee and others have to say to us.
203. Dr Meier argued that there needed to be more
research about the effect of marketing on the young:
"There is a large evidence base [
established channels such as the mass media but a shortage of
studies evaluating newer media such as the internet and mobile
phones. Generally, the vast array of channels and of types of
promotional activity (Jernigan and O'Hara 2004) make it difficult
to isolate individual effects, and thus target individual strategies,
even though they consistently demonstrate an aggregative effect.
Policy options should therefore recognise where a common underpinning
mechanism exists and apply general principles to target such a
mechanism in anticipation of new channels rather than continually
attempt to respond to specific evidence on every new medium."
Several witnesses told us that the system of self
regulation had to end:
Given the impact of alcohol misuse on health in the
UK, the fact that advertising encourages young people to start
drinking and increases their consumption of alcohol, the Alliance
feels that decisions on broadcast advertising are too important
to be left to a cabal of industry representatives. The Government
must review the structure of advertising regulation in the UKdecisions
should be made by a transparently accountable public body with
strong representation from the health community.
Professor Anderson added:
The effects of advertising exposure seem cumulative:
young people who are more exposed are more likely to continue
to increase their drinking as they move into their mid-twenties,
while drinking declines at an earlier age in those who are less
exposed. The international evidence and experience do not suggest
that self-regulation implemented by advertising, media and alcohol
producers prevents the types and content of marketing that impact
on younger people.
Conclusions and recommendations
current system of controls on alcohol advertising and promotion
is failing the young people it is intended to protect. The problem
is more the quantity of advertising and promotion than its content.
This has led public health experts to call for a ban. It is clear
that both the procedures and the scope need to be strengthened.
regulation of alcohol promotion should be completely independent
of the alcohol and advertising industries; this would match best
practice in other fields such as financial services and professional
conduct. In addition young people should themselves be formally
involved in the process of regulation: the best people to judge
what a particular communication is saying are those in the target
current controls do not adequately cover sponsorship, a key platform
for alcohol promotion; the codes must be extended to fill this
gap. The enquiry also heard how dominant new media are becoming
in alcohol promotion and the particular regulatory challenges
they present, including the inadequacy of age controls and the
problems presented by user generated content. Expert guidance
should therefore be sought on how to improve the protection offered
to young people in this area.
there is a pressing need to restrict alcohol advertising and promotion
in places where children are likely to be affected by it. Specifically:
and posters should not be located within 100 metres of any school
(there used to be a similar rule for tobacco).
nine o'clock watershed should be introduced for television advertising.
(The current restrictions which limit advertising around children's
programming fail to protect the relatively larger proportions
of children who watch popular programmes such as soaps).
advertising for alcohol should be restricted to films classified
medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than
10% of its audience/readership is under 18 years of age (the current
figure is 25%).
event should be sponsored if more than 10% of those attending
are under 18 years of age
must be more effective ways of restricting young people's access
to new media which promote alcohol
Alcohol promotion should
not be permitted on social networking sites.
inadequacies of age restrictions on websites, they should be required
on any site which includes alcohol promotionthis would
cover the sites of those receiving alcohol sponsorship. This rule
should also be extended to corporate alcohol websites. Expert
guidance should be sought on how to make these age controls much
advertising should be balanced by public health messaging. Even
a small adjustment would help: for example, for every five television
ads an advertiser should be required to fund one public health
195 2002: £167 million; 2005: £221million;
2006: £194 million (Nielsen Media 2006, as cited by Ofcom
& ASA 2007; year ending June 2007: £172.7m (Nielsen Media
Research cited in the Key Note Ltd (2008) Drinks Market report-total
main media advertising expenditure on alcohol) Back
p.129. and see WHO report http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2001/WHO_MSD_MSB_01.1.pdf)
Nielsen Media 2006, as cited by Ofcom & ASA 2007 Back
BMA, Under the Influence, 2009. Back
Market data on sports sponsorship collected by Ipsos MORI (Key
Note 2007b). Back
Source: Key Note Ltd (2007) Sports Sponsorship. Market Report
November 2007. Hampton: Key Note Ltd. Back
According to the Football league it receives a seven-figure sum
from its sponsor ('It is about a third of our total sponsorship
income'), QQ 1268-9. Back
Ev 145 Back
Ev 146 Back
Ev 34A Back
Ev 146-9 Back
Ev 146 Back
Ev 148 Back
Ev 147 Back
Ev 148 Back
Ev 125 Back
Ev 125 Back
Q 460 Back
Q 461 Back
Ev 149 Back
QQ 1268-9 Back
Q 1262 Back
Q 1267 Back
ASA/Ofcom, Young People and Alcohol Advertising: An investigation
of alcohol advertising following changes to the Advertising Code,
2007, p 9. Back
AL 62A Back
See also evidence statements 7 and 8 of the report. Back
Q 609 Back
BMA, Under the Influence, 2009, p 18 Back
Ibid., pp19-20. Back
Ibid., p 20. Back
Op. cit., pp 50-1. Back
AL 81 Back
Q 847 Back
QQ 867-870 Back
QQ 700-703 Back
Ev 62 Back
Ev 42 Back
Q 935 Back
Ev 62A Back
AL 58 Back