Our study found that hundreds of references to alcohol were visible during each match – with more than 900 in the Scotland/England match alone.
The research also identified the use of “alibi marketing” where features linked to the brand are used for promotional purposes, without explicitly referring to the brand itself. Notably, this was observed during matches played in France, despite it appearing to be prohibited under their regulations.
The findings will also be of interest to regulators and policymakers in Ireland where, in November this year, similar restrictions will be introduced.
In the report, Dr Purves and Dr Critchlow say: “The continued presence of alibi marketing in France does have implications for the regulators and policymakers overseeing the new restrictions in Ireland, namely whether alibi marketing will also be restricted under the wording of their legislation and what arrangements are in place to monitor and enforce the restrictions.”
Dr Sheila Gilheany, Chief Executive of Alcohol Action Ireland said: “This is a great opportunity for Ireland to implement a public health policy that will reduce alcohol advertising exposure to children. As this report highlights, the Irish Government and public health officials need to be wary of the current loopholes we see in the French approach and ensure our regulations protect against this.”
The Scottish Government is expected to launch a consultation on restricting the marketing of alcohol in early 2022.
Elinor Jayne, Director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), said: “As a society, we are used to alcohol companies sponsoring sports, yet it is totally incongruous to have what is an intrinsically unhealthy product associated with a healthy activity.
“The alcohol industry’s involvement in sports sponsorship has been shown to increase the chances of today’s children being harmed by alcohol in the future, and taking into consideration the alcohol industry’s laissez-faire approach to self-regulation, this research should serve as a reminder to the Scottish Government of just how much needs to be done to restrict alcohol marketing around sports.”
Katherine Severi, Chief Executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said “Much like with minimum unit pricing, the Westminster Government is a few steps behind the devolved nations and Ireland when it comes to marketing restrictions.
“We hope that this new study, and the public’s support for such regulations, will encourage the UK Government to follow suit in launching its own consultation.”