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Eurocare ramps up F1 alcohol sponsorship attack

NEWS STORY
22/05/2015

An 18-page report by Eurocare accuses F1 of "extremely high exposure of alcohol advertising to audiences".

With only three of the current teams sporting alcohol branding, and only one of them regularly scoring points, some would say that the latest claim from the European Alcohol Policy Alliance network Eurocare is a little excessive. However, with the FIA using F1 to push its own Road Safety agenda, and president Jean Todt clearly eyeing a future political career, sooner or later the issue will have to be addressed.

When Pitpass reported moves by the EU to end alcohol sponsorship in F1 back in May 2014, some dismissed the claim as "alarmist" and "sensationalism", however, an open letter from Mariann Skar, Secretary General of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) to (FIA president) Jean Todt made it clear the EU means business.

Following open letters to both Todt and Bernie Ecclestone last year, Eurocare has now issued an 18 page report, entitled 'Alcohol Advertising And Sponsorship In Formula One: A Dangerous Cocktail', based on analysis of brand exposure during last year's Monaco Grand Prix together with analysis of teams' sponsorship by the alcohol industry.

According to the report, which was issued by Eurocare, the Institute of Alcohol Studies (UK) and Monash University (Australia), "the findings show that alcohol sponsorship of F1 provides a platform for an extremely high exposure of alcohol advertising to audiences".

The report claims that during the 2014 Monaco race there were on average 11 references to alcohol brands per minute. In other words – the worldwide audience of a total 500 million people were exposed to an alcohol brand on average every five seconds for almost two hours.

The report's authors claim the sponsorship practices go against the spirit of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Furthermore, they also believe that the practices in F1 also go against even weaker voluntary codes set up by the alcohol industry itself.

Eurocare says that having raised the issue of alcohol sponsorship with Jean Todt, the FIA president "claimed no responsibility for the matter". (So no change there then!)

"The amount of alcohol related exposure in F1 settings is extreme by anyone's standards," said Mariann Skar. "There seems to be a lack of recognition within the F1 community about their responsibility when showing alcohol adverts every five seconds to an audience of 500 million viewers. We now urge the involved bodies in F1 to move away from alcohol sponsorship".

"Alcohol sponsorship of motorsport generates seriously mixed messages about drink driving and road safety," added Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, UK, "and contradicts the spirit of current EU rules on alcohol advertising. A common sense approach would be to stop alcohol companies from this risky business of sponsoring Formula 1."

"Alcohol advertising and sponsorship appeared to be common in F1 racing," said Dr Kerry O'Brien, behavioural scientist at Monash University, Australia, "however, to date there had been no research on the extent and nature of alcohol advertising in this sport. The data clearly shows that alcohol advertising and sponsorship in F1 is extensive, at least in the Monaco Grand Prix. It is important that we further examine the extent and impact of alcohol advertising in F1, because its potentially very problematic given previous research showing an association between alcohol advertising and heavier alcohol consumption in young people. Policy makers can then be better positioned regards the need for tighter regulation or bans on alcohol advertising."

The report can be found here. (pdf)

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by PeterJ42, 24/05/2015 9:40

"Ho shortsighted. By 2020 we will have self-driving cars - by 2035 over 75% of all cars on the road will be self-driving. That's about the speed of an EU commission. So the link between alcohol and driving is already being sorted - just not by their cozy little paternalistic quango."

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2. Posted by The stogie, 24/05/2015 1:21

"Headline seekers!!! Alcohol products are a LEGAL product in most countries (except those still locked back in the Middle Ages) and any attempts to interfere with their rights to advertise are just plain wrong."

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3. Posted by HappyHippyBiker, 23/05/2015 7:07

"Seriously though, remember what happened last year after the Islamic State Grand Prix, when the locals, after seeing the alcohol advertising, all got rata***d on fizzy rose water and started racing there souped up Toyota Hilux's and .... hang on ..... ummmm ......"

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4. Posted by gturner38, 23/05/2015 0:10

"The report is a little misleading because they picked the worst possible example. Monaco had Johnnie Walker track signage all over the place, so I just counted 13 such signs while watching an onboard lap on Youtube. Some of them were hard to read, but that wouldn't have mattered to Eurocare. Silverstone, by contrast, didn't have a single alcohol related ad on track apart from on the cars. "

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5. Posted by Ro, 22/05/2015 22:10

"Excuse me, but WHO are these people ? What do they do? What powers do they have ?
Simple:
NONE...
they act for their own benefits as someone has to pay they exorbitant wages!
What difference does it make that some teams are sponsored by Heineken, or Gordons Gin ?
Ive seen a lot of circuit advertising by Fosters, so please, Eurocare, bugger off and find something useful do do, like picking up dogs poo. At least you will have more backing for it !"

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6. Posted by kiwi2wheels, 22/05/2015 20:57

"The herd needs culling."

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7. Posted by GordonW, 22/05/2015 18:27

"For goodness sake - Formula One fans are not football thugs or such like. Formula One fans have the sense to understand that drinking and driving do not mix. Why does the "European Alcohol Policy Alliance" feel it can a) brand itself as "Eurocare" - more "Euro stick your nose into things that don't concern you" Mariann and b) why do they think they have jurisdiction over a global sport? Millions - if not billions - of car drivers throughout the world drive responsibly - yet when they are not going to be driving enjoy an alcoholic drink. Putting "Johnny Walker" or "Martini" on the side of a Formula One car does not mean that drivers will immediately think, "it's OK to drink whisky or vermouth when I drive". Mariann Skar needs to grow up and stop being the pathetic "nanny" she is presently appearing to be."

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8. Posted by F One, 22/05/2015 18:01

"They need to have a nice pint and chill out, the tee total numpties."

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9. Posted by Jonno, 22/05/2015 17:42

"Eurocare is an action group, like the antismoking brigade, it is not directly connected to the EU. It's up to the alcohol industry to fight them, not the FIA, because their activities won't stop at F1, they will move to stop alcohol being advertised in all media. Given the success of the antismoking groups, the alcohol industry needs to get its finger out.

"

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10. Posted by Rock Doc, 22/05/2015 17:41

"As distracted driving seems to be the main issue at the moment, will there also be a call to end sponsorship of mobile phone companies as well.

Anyway what's this talk of influencing the young ... according to Bernie F1 sponsorship is only aimed at the 40+ range with money to spare."

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11. Posted by bfairey, 22/05/2015 16:39

"Smoke screen."

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12. Posted by Paul C, 22/05/2015 15:54

"Eurocare just sounds like another bunch of progressive/socialist whiners. Come on over and put your name on a car or team to balance out alcoholic beverage sponsors."

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13. Posted by scf1fan, 22/05/2015 15:53

"This is very sad. Though Eurocare might have a noble cause (reduce alcoholism and drunk driving) there does come a point when reality needs to be considered. After 45+ years of following F1, (most of that at a VERY young age . . . :-) I do not drink (alcoholic beverages) nor do I smoke (err . . . anything!) yet most of the people that I know who do drink and smoke, do NOT watch F1- at all. So there is Zero correlation there.

Somehow, I suspect that even if there were no alcoholic sponsors on the cars, the (opposed) beverages, like at every other major sports event, would still be sold at the race venues (which is where the drinking and driving IS an issue) and at other venues associated with the events. Do they think Monaco should consider going "dry" for the race? I seriously doubt that will happen. Like it or not, drinking is pretty much an ingrained part of our social interactions. Obviously teams can function without alcohol based advertisement, but I find it distasteful that any group would try to leverage their concerns in this manner.

Perhaps Eurocare could better spend their time trying to enlist those sponsors to foot the bill for some additional "educational" advertisement? That would be more of a win/win circumstance than this pillorying that they are trying to achieve."

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