VB EXIT PROVOKES CALL TO BAN BEER IN AUSSIE SPORT

In Global perspective by Clyde Mooney

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Carlton & United Breweries has ended a 20-year partnership with Cricket Australia, pulling VB sponsorship from the Australian test and one-day teams.

“CUB has made a commercial decision to focus on more direct advertising during summer across our broad portfolio,” a spokesperson said. “CUB will maintain its strong and long-term sponsorship arrangements with Australian sport, including the AFL and NRL.”

While CUB cites the decision to split with Cricket Australia (CA) was purely financial, and amicable, it pleases some critics, who are calling on CA to ditch alcohol sponsorship, and question the loophole that allows alcohol advertising prior to 8:30pm on weekends during sport.

“On every other day of the week, during every other program on television, ACMA recognises that alcohol advertisements are harmful to children and does not allow for them to be shown before 8.30pm,” states RACP (Royal Australasian College of Physicians) president Dr Catherine Yelland.

“Why are sports programs an exception?”

The RACP calls on submissions by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol that states alcohol advertising is at times aggressive and reaching children, and associated with youth drinking. Alliance co-chair Michael Moore wants State and Territory governments to legislate a ban on alcohol marketing from public locations, and close the sport advertising loophole.

Globally, alcohol brands are traditionally some of the biggest advertisers in sport, contributing billions of dollars to the business of producing professional athletes, teams and events. The deal between CUB and CA has reputedly been worth around $65 million over the last five years.

The world’s biggest sporting event is still the American NFL grand final – the Superbowl. The 2017 big match saw brands paying $5 million for a 30-second advertisement.

The typically big-budget creative-packed ads that air during the Superbowl have become legendary in their own right, and while the industries ranged widely, alcohol was the third-highest segment, behind cars and tech companies.

The ‘King of Beers’ and traditional sweetheart of Superbowl advertising, Budweiser (and Bud Light), joined fellow Americans Busch and Michelob Ultra, and Australian wine Yellowtail (Casella) in ads featuring pilgrims, kangaroos and puppies.

A spokesperson for CA reported to the ABC the pending announcement “an exciting new partnership” but the national broadcaster reports this is believed to be “another beverage company”.