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Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Countering the influence of alcohol sport sponsorship: a media intervention

This project empirically tested whether showing adult sports spectators public health advertisements that challenge the pro-drinking messages disseminated through alcohol sport sponsorship bolstered their resistance to the unhealthy influence of alcohol sport sponsorship. 1,075 Australian adults who planned to watch a National Rugby League (NRL) State of Origin series game, featuring prominent alcohol sponsorship, were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control (neutral advertisement); counter-advertisement exposing alcohol harms; counter-advertisement exposing alcohol sponsorship and harms. Participants completed a pre-test questionnaire and viewed their assigned counter-advertisement multiple times in the 5-7 days before the NRL game. Within four days of watching the game, participants completed post-test measures.  Compared with the control advertisement, the counter-advertisement exposing alcohol sponsorship and harms promoted higher awareness of sponsor brands, less favourable attitudes towards sponsor brands and drinking beer, lower purchase intentions for sponsor brands and perceived less image-based similarity and fit between the sporting event and sponsor brands. Both counter-advertisements promoted lower perceptions of the appropriateness of consuming alcohol while watching sport, higher awareness of alcohol harms and higher intentions to reduce alcohol consumption than the control advertisement.  Participants who viewed the counter-advertisement exposing alcohol sponsorship and harms also showed stronger support for policies aimed at restricting sports-related alcohol marketing and less favourable beliefs about the alcohol industry. Overall, findings indicate that counter-advertisements addressing alcohol harms can promote knowledge of harms and intentions to drink less. Counter-advertisements that additionally expose and critique alcohol sponsorship can detract from perceptions of sponsor brand image and intentions to purchase the sponsor's products, bolster public support for policies targeting alcohol sport sponsorship, diminish beliefs supportive of alcohol industry marketing strategies and enhance negative views of alcohol companies and their marketing practices.  This approach could be scaled up for mass dissemination via television or online media in the lead up to major alcohol sponsored sporting events, providing health promoters and policy makers with an important tool for helping to protect the Australian population against the persuasive effects of alcohol sport sponsorship.   

CBRC staff:

A/Prof Helen Dixon, Maree Scully, Dr Emily Brennan, Prof Melanie Wakefield


A/Prof Kerry O’Brien and Dr Brian Vandenberg (Monash University), Prof Simone Pettigrew (George Institute) and Prof Mike Daube (Curtin University), A/Prof Jeff Niederdeppe (Cornell University, USA), Geoff Munro (formerly Alcohol and Drug Foundation), Todd Harper and Sarah Jackson (Cancer Council Victoria).


NHMRC Project Grant (1159262)


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