Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr. Keith Parry, Senior Lecturer - School of Business and Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University (December 2017).
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated:  18 October 2018
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Community Sport Coaching
iStock, 186553687

Introduction

Sponsorship, in most cases, is not intended to be philanthropy—it's a mutually beneficial business arrangement. In the competitive sponsorship environment of sport, a company wishing to align their brand with a sport does so to gain a host of economic, public relations, and product placement advantages. Sponsors may also seek to leverage their association with an athlete, team, league, or the sport’s positive brand to gain public trust, acceptance, or alignment with the perceived image a sporting entity has established or acquired.

In return, sporting organisations, teams, and/or athletes typically receive financial benefit for their association with a company, product, or campaign. There are usually additional non-financial advantages (such as goods and/or services in-kind) to be gained as a consequence of an association with a sponsor.

Advertising campaigns may be linked to sponsorship or act as a stand-alone marketing strategy by a sponsoring company or business. In contrast, a sponsor may not necessarily deal directly with a particular sport or team, but invest in parallel advertising through a sporting venue or media broadcast to develop a perceived public association with a sport’s brand. In cases such as this, a sport, team or athlete may not control how their image or brand is used.


Key Messages 

1

Brand association between sport and sponsor is intended to link the public perception of the two entities.

2

Product usage, or misuse, that may result in personal or social harm raises ethical concerns.

3

Government regulation, voluntary industry practice, and the decisions made by sports are options for limiting the potential consequences of product use, overuse, or misuse that may cause personal or social harm.


When sponsorship and advertising are linked by a single corporate message, the net exposure of the company or product is optimal. Sponsorship and advertising of sports has become a high-stakes business and decisions made by both parties are carefully constructed and critically analysed.

The company wants to associate their brand or product with all the 'feel good' aspects of sport, particularly a successful sporting event, league/competition, team, or athlete. In turn, the organisation or individual wants the exposure and financial benefits of sponsorship and advertising as well as the association with a 'successful' company or a well-known product.

The ethics of entering into a sponsorship agreement reflects the sporting organisation’s (or individual athlete's) values. However, ethical decisions may conflict with a need for financial support. The question may arise, "When does an association with a company or product diminish an organisation's or individual's image?"

tobaccoThe case of tobacco

The Victorian Government passed the Victorian Tobacco Act in 1987 that prohibited certain types of cigarette advertising and sales of tobacco products, reducing the accessibility of tobacco to children. The Act also created the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). 

  • Tobacco Free Sports – How sport finally gave up the tobacco habit in Victoria, VicHealth (2002). Soon after the establishment of VicHealth, together with the QUIT campaign, health promotion began to buy out tobacco company sponsorship of sport and the arts. Tobacco advertising was replaced by a variety of health messages, dealing with everything from healthy eating, mental health, heart health, skin cancer prevention, to physical activity and quitting smoking. VicHealth and QUIT have had a long partnership with sport to successfully replace tobacco sponsorship and help to create smoke-free environments where people can participate and enjoy their favourite sport or activity.

Nationally, prior to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act in 1992which expressly prohibited most forms of tobacco advertising, including the sponsorship of sporting eventsthe ethical conflict created by the association of sports and tobacco products existed. For many years prior to the Act clinical evidence identified that the use of tobacco products presented a real health risk, yet tobacco sponsorship and advertising remained firmly entrenched in Australian sport until legislated out of existence. Did the desire for financial gain by some sports outweigh an ethical position to refrain from promoting and endorsing (albeit, in some cases indirectly) products that were known to cause harm?

  • Lessons from the removal of tobacco sponsorship from sport. FARE Australia/YouTube (17 September 2017). A couple of decades back tobacco advertising was plastered across Australian sports events. Then a rugby league club President spoke out. David Hill led the North Sydney Bears, and wanted an end to tobacco sponsorship. He told Di Martin it’s a story of power, influence and bullying by an industry that controlled the way we thought about sport.   

In the European Union tobacco sponsorship in sport was prohibited by the EU Tobacco Advertising Directive, which came into effect 31 July 2005. The article below highlights some of the difficulties that 'alibi' marketing techniques can cause when they are used by companies (in this case Philip Morris) to continue an association with a sport or team despite changes of law. 

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Tobacco Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

alcoholThe case of alcohol

While the issue of tobacco product sponsorship and advertising of sport has been resolved by legislation, other ethical decisions remain about the association that sports have with products that present a potential health risk. A quick look at sport organisation websites shows that some national sports can have three or four alcohol related sponsors at varying levels of support, not including venue sponsors, team/state sport sponsors, or broadcast advertising.The high rate of alcohol product sponsorship and advertising of sportparticularly major sports with significant TV coverage such as cricket, rugby league (NRL), tennis, motor sport, etc.is an ongoing concern in Australia.  

  • Most Australians say alcohol promotion and sport don’t mix: new report (PDF  - 55 KB), Curtin University media release, (27 September 2017). More than seven out of 10 Australian adults want TV ads promoting alcohol to be phased out at times when children are likely to be watching sports broadcasts – including this week’s AFL and NRL Grand Finals, a national survey commissioned by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth shows. 
  • National Omnibus: General Population (PDF  - 745 KB), Chris Batini, McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, (July 2017). Results of the National Survey July 2017 Market Research Report. Survey questions included: extent of Australian children's exposure to alcohol promotion, concern about children's current level of exposure to alcohol promotion, community support for using legal controls to reduce children's exposure to alcohol promotion, extent to which children who watch sport on TV are exposed to alcohol promotion, Do you think it is acceptable for alcohol to be promoted in connection with sport?, Do you think it is appropriate for alcohol ads to feature sport stars that are popular with children?, Do you think motor sports should be able to promote alcohol, such as having alcohol brand sponsors?, are popular sports such as AFL, NRL and cricket are doing enough to promote healthy messages to the community?, community support for phasing out TV commercials for alcohol during sports broadcasts in children's viewing times, and support for phasing out promotion of alcohol through sports sponsorship. 
  • The official drinks cabinet of Australian sport, drinktank, (1 April 2015). Alcohol companies engage in an enormous range of sponsorship activities in Australian sport – from local teams through to major national codes. The relationship between alcohol and sport is now so strong that many sporting teams and events have ‘Official’ alcohol sponsors.
  • Alcohol Marketing During the 2018 Australian Football Grand Finals (PDF  - 747 KB),Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), (October 2018). This report investigated the amount and type of alcohol marketing during the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final, played on 29 September 2018, and the National Rugby League (NRL) grand final, played on 30 September 2018. In the AFL grand final, 121 occurrences of alcohol marketing were identified across the 181 minutes of pre-game, game and post-game coverage analysed. This amounted to 0.7 occurrences per minute. In the NRL grand final, 376 occurrences of alcohol marketing were identified. This amounted to 2.9 per minute across the 131 minutes of pre-game, game and post-game coverage analysed. Saturation of alcohol advertising during the NRL grand final was just over three times higher than during the AFL grand final. This difference was largely driven by the on-field advertising during the NRL which was visually pervasive during game play.

The strongest pro-sponsorship argument is based upon the right of adults to make independent choices regarding the consumption of substances, in both private of social environments, that are legally available. 

Strong anti-sponsorship and advertising arguments are based upon the available, world-wide evidence that children and adolescents exposed to alcohol marketing (even if this is indirect) are affected in terms of their attitudes and behaviour toward alcohol products. Sport attracts the attention of children and youth like no other sector; in fact governments actively promote the involvement of children and youth in sports. 

The evidence of the health risks, both short-term and long-term, associated with significant levels of alcohol consumption is substantial. The evidence base underpinning the social and economic impact of alcohol use provides a compelling argument for rejecting the association between ‘sport’ and ‘alcohol’.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Alcohol Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

Junk-foodThe case of junk food

Like alcohol product sponsorship there is a significant level of concern within Australia relating to the prevalence of unhealthy or 'junk' food advertising and sponsorship that is linked to sport. These concerns are particularly heightened when the advertising or sponsorship is aimed towards children, but are also relevant to adults. Three top international sponsors of the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games were McDonalds, Cadbury, and Coca Cola. The London Olympic Games hosted the world's biggest McDonald's restaurant - with seating for 1,500 customers - and continued to promote the strong brand association between McDonald's and the Games [source: A VERY Big Mac! World's biggest McDonald's with 1,500 seats to be built for games, Daily Mail Australia, (22 April 2012)]. 

Over-consumption of energy dense and nutrient poor (EDNP) foods and beverages,  commonly referred to as 'junk food', has been shown to contribute to health risks. High consumption of EDNPs, combined with the trend for adults, children, and adolescents to engage in less physical activity, has created an energy imbalance which contributes to overweight and other associated health risks. EDNPs also typically contain large amounts (i.e. a high percentage of the daily recommended intake) of one or more of these substances linked to obesity and heart disease – sodium, saturated fats, and sugar.

  • The effects of fast food on the body [infographic], Pietrangelo A and Carey E, Healthline (2 November 2015). Fast foods often contain too many calories and too little nutrition.
  • Evidence update on obesity prevention across the life-course (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Hector D, King L, Hardy L, St George A, Hebden L, Espinel P and Rissel C, Physical Activity Nutrition Obesity Research Group. NSW Ministry of Health (2012). This report identifies promising strategies for intervention across different stages of the life course. This report considers evidence from studies and reviews on factors contributing to weight gain and the evidence of effectiveness of interventions in terms of weight status and mediating factors. Several areas of intervention showed promise, including: (1) addressing community understanding and social norms; (2) addressing exposure to marketing of foods and lifestyles, particularly to children and adolescents, and; (3) increasing daily physical activity and improving nutrition in everyday life.
  • A Junk food Index for Children and Adolescents (PDF  - 6.0 MB), Grunseit A, Hardy L, King L, Rangan A, Physical Activity Nutrition Obesity Research Group. NSW Ministry of Health (2012). The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity continues to be unacceptably high in Australia and this is a great concern to public health policy and planning. A contributing factor to children and adolescents’ energy imbalance is the excessive consumption of energy dense foods and beverages (EDNP). Data collected in the 2010 NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) was used to construct an index that summarises total EDNP food consumption. Index scores were positively correlated with soft drink and fast food consumption, increasing frequency of family meals at fast food restaurants, having sweets as a reward for good behaviour, higher soft drink availability in the home, and increasing time spent in non-active screen recreation (i.e. computer and television). Index scores were negatively correlated with fruit and vegetable intake and the frequency of water consumption as a drink of choice.

While obesity has a complex set of antecedent factors, some related to genetics and others related to environment and lifestyle, the current concern by governments and many health organisations is that the rate of overweight and obesity among the Australian population is increasing, particularly among children and adolescents.

  • Australia: the Healthiest Country by 2020, Discussion paper prepared by the National Preventative Health Taskforce (2008). This document identifies key issues upon which the Federal Government’s health strategy will be shaped. The incidence of obesity in the population is a public health concern that places considerable cost pressure on the public health system. It's estimated that the total cost of obesity in Australia in 2008, not including persons who are overweight, was $8.3 billion annually. Obesity and cardiovascular disease present two health risks that can be reduced by certain lifestyle changes, including an increase in daily physical activity.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topics, Childhood Obesity and Preventive Health, Sport & Physical Activity.   

The 2011 Australian Parliamentary Library report, Marketing obesity? Junk food, advertising and kids, considers both sides of the debate and summarises the main arguments proposed in favour of retaining unhealthy food and beverage sponsorship and advertising. Like alcohol the food industry argues that responsible consumers can make their own decisions about products and the amounts they consume and that marketing is simply sharing information about potentially interesting, legal, products. Additionally, self-regulation and responsible marketing are considered sufficient to protect consumers from undue influence. Lastly, those in favour of maintaining the status quo argue that the link between junk food advertising and obesity is not yet proven fact. 

  • Marketing obesity? Junk food, advertising and kids, Rhonda Jolly, Research Paper Number 9, 2010-11, Parliamentary Library of Australia (2011). Childhood obesity has been labelled one of the most serious public health issues of the 21st century. The increasing availability of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (so called junk foods) has made healthy eating a challenge. This challenge, according to some research, is compounded by advertising that influences people’s food preferences and consumption patterns. As a consequence, there has been considerable advocacy urging governments to place limitations on the advertising of junk foods, particularly to children. In opposition, other research has supported the argument that junk food can have a place as part of a balanced diet, and it’s the responsibility of individuals, including parents, to make decisions about consumption. This Parliamentary Library research paper considers both sides of this debate and looks at the available evidence. The paper concludes that overall, the Australian Government response has been cautious in relation to calls for more action to deal with obesity and its concomitant health problems. Arguments that the junk food industry voluntarily and responsibly limits the exposure of children to excessively manipulative promotion of its products has been successful in maintaining a largely self‐regulatory environment. This is despite the findings of national and international studies that indicate more action may be needed, or could be taken by governments to limit the exposure of junk food to children. Some changes to Australia’s current approach may occur in the future, as a result of factors such as growing public demand for intervention and a shift in health policy emphasis towards long-term prevention strategies. 

Strong anti-advertising and sponsorship arguments highlight the impact of junk food sponsorship and advertising on consumption patterns as well as research into the prevalence of unhealthy sport sponsorship and in particular sponsorship of sport development programs for children. These sponsorship arrangements often include prominent logo placements on webpages and uniforms, naming rights, and branded participant packs. The 2013 report by the Cancer Council NSW. Building solutions to protect children from unhealthy food and drink sport sponsorship. also highlighted that many children positively associate with, recognise, and remember sport sponsors at both their own club and their favourite professional clubs. In fact, 69% of children thought that the food and drink companies sponsoring their club were 'cool'. 

  • Sponsorship of junior sport development programs in Australia, Wendy L. Watson, Rebecca Brunner, Lyndal Wellard, & Clare Hughes. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, (3 July 2016). This study investigated the nature and extent of unhealthy food, beverage, alcohol and gambling sponsors of children's sport development programs. There were 246 sponsors identified. Eleven (4.5%) sponsors were food, beverage, alcohol or gambling companies of which 10 (91%) were unhealthy. Surf Lifesaving (n=4) and athletics (n=3) websites had the highest number of unhealthy sponsors. The majority of food and beverage company sponsors in sport development programs are companies associated with unhealthy products. Two websites hosting junior development program information included an alcohol company sponsor and a gambling company sponsor.
  • Australia’s future Olympic stars targeted by unhealthy sports sponsorshipCancer Council NSW media release, (3 July 2016). New research released by Cancer Council NSW today has revealed that almost 90 per cent of food and beverage sponsors of children’s sports development programs in Australia are classified as unhealthy, with brands including McDonald’s, Schweppes, Gatorade and Nutrigrain all currently competing for brand exposure in kids’ sport. 
  • Building solutions to protect children from unhealthy food and drink sport sponsorship (PDF  - 753 KB), B Kelly, K Chapman, LA Baur, A Bauman, L King, B Smith, Cancer Council NSW/University of Sydney, (May 2013). Cancer Council NSW and the Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney conducted research to determine the scope of unhealthy food and drink sponsorship of children’s sport, the effect of this sponsorship on children, and potential solutions to create healthier sponsorship arrangements.

Internationally, governments and many corporate entities (including sporting organisations) have developed policies related to food environments. There is considerable expert opinion/analysis regarding what policies best activate change in public perception of foods and population nutrition 'norms'. A 2017 report by the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and Deakin University, Policies for tackling obesity and creating healthier food environments: Scorecard and priority recommendations for Australian governments, highlighted that although the Australian Government is meeting current best practice in implementing some recommended health related policies, such as: (1) food labelling and health claims; (2) food pricing – exclusion of basic foods from the Goods and Services Tax; and (3) regular monitoring of population body weight as a health measure, there are other areas where we are behind, including: regulations to reduce the exposure of children to the marketing of unhealthy food.

gamblingThe case of gambling

Legal gambling on sports contests and events, as well as gambling enterprises (specifically poker machines) that provide indirect financial benefits to sporting organisations, may come at a social and economic cost to our society. Many Australian sports clubs, particularly among the football codes, receive a large portion of their income from electronic gaming machines. These profits (in most cases) help to subsidise sporting teams and sports development programs. Many teams that may not receive direct sponsorship from ‘gambling’ activities are nonetheless, recipients (albeit indirectly) of the proceeds of gambling. Potentially due to ethical considerations, some clubs are now starting to reduce or stop utilising gaming as a revenue stream. 

  • Melbourne FC cut ties with gaming industry, SportBusiness International, (5 April 2018). “The club is in the strongest financial position it has ever been in, and with our members' support, we are well placed to grow football-related income and to re-focus our business to make the transition from our reliance on gaming to ensure that we are financially strong and stable for our next generation of members".
  • The South Australian Gambling Industry (PDF  - 1.6 MB), South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (2006). This research looked at the total social cost of electronic gaming machine (EGM) related problem gambling in South Australia (note: only EGM gambling was considered in this study). In the 2002-03 financial year it’s estimated that between $528 million and up to $960 million was lost from the State’s economy due to problem gambling. The total benefits of EGM gambling in South Australia during this period are estimated at $378 million to $472 million. Despite the potential benefits consumers enjoy from having access to EGMs, for the State as a whole the net impact of EGMs, even taking the lowest estimate of costs and the highest estimate of benefit, is still negative.

The Australian Government Department of Communities, in their facts about gambling (last updated 6 December 2016), states that:

Many Australians enjoy an occasional flutter. However for some, gambling can be highly destructive – ruining lives and destroying families. The biggest cause? The pokies. Australians spend nearly $12 billion a year on poker machines and three quarters of people who have a serious problem with gambling are pokie players. As a community, we have a duty of care to make gambling on poker machines safer and protect people whose gambling is out of control.Australian Government

Many other forms of legalised gambling contribute to the overall social and economic impact that gambling has on society.  The Australian Productivity Commission released a report on gambling in 2010. This report provides evidence of the benefits and liabilities of gambling over a number of economic and social parameters. Chapter 6, The benefits of gambling and some implications, makes these observations about gambling venuesparticularly clubs, many of which are affiliated with sporting teamsthat claim to make significant social contributions: (1) many of these benefits are to members, not to the public at large; (2) the claimed benefits of gambling revenue on sporting activities and volunteering do not appear strong, indeed, the presence of gambling may adversely affect volunteering rates; (3) the gross value of social contributions by clubs is likely to be significantly less than the support governments provide to those clubs through tax and other concessions; (4) given this, there are strong grounds for the phased implementation of significantly lower levels of gaming revenue tax concessions for clubs, commensurate with the realised community benefits.

Sports betting has grown at a rapid rate in Australia over the past several years and this growth may be attributed to the proliferation of marketing campaigns that promote online sports betting services [source: Second Report. Interactive and online gambling and gambling advertising : Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment, Online Transactions and Other Measures Bill 2011Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, (December 2011)]. The Parliament of Australia has considered the issue of whether legislation is needed to control/monitor the advertising and promotion of sports gambling services.

  • APS Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform: Inquiry into the advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport (PDF  - 283 KB), Australian Psychological Society (4 March 2013). The APS is concerned about the noticeable increase in the advertising of gambling opportunities within sport; including within games, into commentary and coverage of games, and alongside the promotion of sports events. The increasing use of mobile phone applications for wagering has created opportunities to gamble and made sports gambling more accessible to a wider group of people. The proliferation of gambling advertising within sport has the effect of normalising it, making gambling an integral component of sporting activities and an accepted part of participating in, and enjoying, sports. Constant availability of gambling from any location, accompanied by increases in advertising may result in increased gambling participation and less perception of potential harm; this is particularly of concern for adolescents, who are highly influenced by advertising. Although the exact nature, extent and harm caused by this form of gambling and its widespread promotion remains largely unknown, the APS considers that the increasing integration of gambling advertising in sporting events and activities has the potential to influence the attitudes of children and young people towards gambling in the future. The APS outlines eight points for the Committee to consider: (1) protecting children and young people from exposure to gambling advertising; (2) gambling advertising during live sports contests; (3) targeting athletes at risk to pre-empt problem gambling behaviour; (4) supporting harm minimisation strategies for athletes who may be engaged in problem gambling; (5) research into the impact of internet and mobile phone gambling applications; (6) public education; (7) research into the impact of gambling advertising on children and young people, and; (8) involving stakeholders (e.g. athletes, sporting clubs, sports fans) in the development of policies designed to reduce gambling–related harm.
  • Second Report. Interactive and online gambling and gambling advertising : Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment, Online Transactions and Other Measures Bill 2011, Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, (December 2011). Chapters 12 and 16 of this report address sports betting and advertising. A High Court of Australia decision in 2008 ruled that under section 92 of the Constitution, States could not legislate to ban a licensed betting exchange. For many sporting codes, sports betting and the advertising of sports betting services are a lucrative source of income. Tabcorp and Betfair have deals with the Australian Football League (AFL) worth more than $2 million annually. In addition, more than 20 other betting agencies pay a dividend of their AFL-related takings to the league and many clubs have sponsorship deals with wagering companies. Similar conditions exist for the National Rugby League (NRL). Another key issue raised during the inquiry was the view that there has been a proliferation of sports betting advertising during the broadcasts of sporting events and at sporting venues.
  • Sports betting and advertising, Discussion Paper Number 4, Australian Institute of Family Studies (November 2014). Expansion of internet gambling has driven the growth of sports betting, which comprises 53% of the international online gambling market. A 2008 Australian High Court decision removed restrictions on bookmakers licensed in one jurisdiction from advertising in another. This has shifted betting away from land-based outlets to online formats. Many sporting events, teams and venues have entered into commercial marketing arrangements with corporate bookmakers. This practice is most prominent in the two largest Australian sports, the National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL). Because these codes receive marketing and product fees based on betting revenues, sporting bodies have incentives to promote wagering products. Promotional techniques used include broadcast advertising on TV and radio, online pop-ups on Internet sites, celebrity brand ambassadors, inducements, direct and third party email and SMS, and loyalty programs. Sponsorship and promotions are also embedded into sporting fixtures (naming rights) and at sporting venues. Sports gambling operators provide mobile sports betting apps for smartphones, stream live coverage of sporting events, and promote sports betting by providing updated odds, money back guarantees, betting tips, offers of credit, and bonus betting promotions. This discussion paper provides an update on the extent of sports gambling in Australia and public concerns, it also foreshadows that further research is needed to better understand the role of sports betting advertising in shaping consumer attitudes and behaviours and identifying causal pathways between exposure and consumption, especially among vulnerable individuals or groups.

In 2013 the Australian Government moved to ban live odds and restrict gambling advertising during televised matches before 8:30pm in response to community concerns [source: Gillard moves to ban live odds, restrict gambling ads during games, Paul Bibby and Jonathan Swan, Sydney Morning Herald, (26 May 2013)].

In 2017 these changes were strengthened when a major Broadcast and Content Reform Package was passed. The Reform Package specifically prohibits all gambling promotions from five minutes before the scheduled start of play in all live sports broadcasts to five minutes after the conclusion of play or to 8:30 pm. The restrictions will apply to commercial television and radio, subscription television and radio, the Special Broadcasting Service, and online platforms that are aimed at Australian audiences. The Commercial Television, Subscription Television,  and Commercial Radio industries are expected to make voluntary amendments to their registered Codes of practice by March 2018. The Government will work with industry stakeholders on implementing the changes for online services as soon as practicable.  

  • Gambling Advertising (PDF  - 415 KB), Australian Government Department of Communications & the Arts fact sheet, (October 2017). The Turnbull Government will introduce further restrictions on gambling advertising during live sports programs during children’s hours on commercial and subscription broadcasters, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), and online platforms. Our changes will establish a clear safe-zone during which parents can have confidence that their children will not be exposed to gambling advertisements.
  • Live odds ban debate exposes sport and gambling’s uncomfortable mutual dependency, David Rowe Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, The Conversation, (8 May 2017). Genuine sports lovers, and those who simply wish to protect the vulnerable from harmfully manipulative messages, may wonder how sport and TV became so dependent on gambling.
  • Live sports odds ban: does the government’s plan go far enough?, Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University, The Conversation, (27 May 2013). What are the odds? In the face of public pressure, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has given bookmakers an ultimatum regarding sporting events. If the bookies do not agree to a ban on gambling promotion during events, legislation will be introduced to this effect. The ban will not extend to advertising before or after the game, or during breaks in play.

Online sports betting services have cultivated a strong association with many professional sports, including the sponsorship of teams or leagues. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) provides a useful fact sheet on the registered industry Codes of practice that apply to betting odds promotion and gambling advertising during live sports broadcasts on television and radio.

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that personal financial harm, as well as the breakdown of social norms (family, work, and personal relationships) can result from excessive gambling behaviour. The close association between gambling agencies and sporting organisations certainly increases the exposure of gambling to the average sports fan. Advertising of gambling products by sports, on televised broadcasts of sport or by advertising at sports venues, may also shape the attitudes of children and adolescents toward gambling, normalising gambling as "part of sport".

  • Duds, Mugs and the A-list: The impact of uncontrolled sports betting (PDF  - 673 KB), Financial Counselling Australia (August 2015). This report describes the serious issues financial counsellors are seeing in their casework with clients who have sports betting debts. This report is not a comprehensive analysis of what is going on in the gambling industry as a whole, but seeks to explain how betting agencies operate and what reforms may be needed in the sports betting industry, and why.
  • Gambling sponsorship of sport: an exploratory study of links with gambling attitudes and intentions, Hing N, Vitartas P and Lamont M, International Gambling Studies, Volume 13, Number 3 (2013). Gambling sponsorship of sport in Australia is prolific, but also contentious. This study explores the relationships between gambling sponsorship and attitudes and intentions related to gambling, in the context of a major Australian football competition heavily sponsored by gambling companies. Data were gathered from an online survey of 212 adults. The results indicated that attitudes to gambling and gambling intentions were positively associated with responses to gambling sponsorship of sport. Viewing televised football matches helped form viewer interest in, and favourable attitude towards, the use of the sponsors’ products. These findings suggest that exposure to gambling promotions during televised sport may encourage gambling intentions. Persons at risk of excessive gambling behaviour and recovering problem gamblers may be more willing to use the sponsor’s products. While further research is needed to empirically support any case for regulatory change, this exploratory study provides a foundation for future research into gambling promotion during televised sports.
  • Gambling on sport sponsorship: A conceptual framework for research and regulatory review, Lamont M, Hing N and Gainsbury S, Sport Management Review, Volume 14, Issue 3 (2011). Gambling products and services gain substantial exposure to large audiences via the sponsorship and broadcast of sport. The mainstream appeal of sports attracts a television audience or fan-base that can include youth as well as at-risk and problem gamblers. The direct marketing of gambling and its alignment with a ‘healthy’ activity (sport) may contribute to the normalisation of gambling. This paper reviews the current gambling sport sponsorship landscape and proposes a conceptual framework aimed at facilitating a systematic, interdisciplinary research agenda for examining corporate social responsibility issues pertinent to the sponsorship of sport by commercial gambling providers.
  • Initiation, influence, and impact: adolescents and parents discuss the marketing of gambling products during Australian sporting matches, Pitt H, Thomas S and Bestman A, BMC Public Health, Volume 16 (2016). Concern has been raised about the impact of gambling promotions during sporting matches. This research looks at the gambling beliefs and behaviours of adolescents  and parents’ attitudes towards the marketing of gambling products within sport. Interviews were conducted with 59 family groups from Victoria, comprising at least one adolescent, age 14 to 18 years of age. Three main themes emerged. First, sport as a platform for the promotion of gambling; adolescents perceived that embedded promotions during a match and the use of athletes in gambling promotions were significant mechanisms for creating an alignment between gambling companies and sporting teams or codes. Second, the influence of marketing messages in creating a perception that gambling was always accessible and was an integral part of the sporting experience. Third, the impact of marketing messages on adolescent’s attitudes about sport. Parents observed that wagering and discussion of the ‘odds’ of a sporting outcome had become embedded in adolescents’ narratives about sporting matches. This study found that while the gambling industry states that it does not aim to intentionally target young people, adolescents are increasingly aware of the relationship between gambling and sport.
  • “It's just everywhere!” Children and parents discuss the marketing of sports wagering in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, published online ahead of print (14 August 2016). This study looked at how children and adults recall the content of promotional material for sports wagering companies. Children between the ages of 8 and 16 years were surveyed at sports clubs representing rugby league (N=75), Australian football (N=46) and soccer (N=18); at least one parent of each child was also surveyed about their awareness and attitudes toward sports wagering. More than 90% of the children from NRL and AFL, and 75% from soccer could recall the promotions from television viewing or stadium advertising. 75% of the children and 90% of the adults perceived that sports wagering was becoming a normal part of sport.

The impact that sport and physical activity has upon personal development, physical and mental health, social cohesion, and community development is extensively researched. Managed correctly the benefits of sport and physical activity are considerable, but it is also relevant to acknowledge that sport, particularly organised sport, can also contribute to inequality, exclusion, and discrimination of both individuals and groups. 

  • The Power of Sport:Building social bridges and breaking down cultural barriers [thesis], Paul Oliver, Curtin University, Faculty of Humanities, (September 2014).This research investigated whether sport was effective at breaking down cultural barriers across sporting communities for Indigenous people and those from CaLD backgrounds, and if it could build bridges by contributing to wider social, physical and health issues, and thereby generate increased social capital in communities. It concludes that sport is not the magic ‘cure all’ that many assume, and can, in fact, reaffirm existing power structures that cause discrimination and inequality. However,participation in and through sport can help processes of belonging, trust and inclusion, and if managed correctly, sport can be an excellent medium for encouraging awareness and valuable public debate on wider social issues.  

In Australia sport is generally seen as an important part of the national culture and often as an agent for ‘good’ that can impact upon personal and social well-being and help to build more inclusive communities. Therefore, one of the ethical questions that sports must ask is:

'Can a sport (or athlete) reconcile the financial benefit of a sponsorship arrangement with a product or service that may result in social or personal harm?'

There is no question that tobacco, alcohol, junk food, and gambling products are legal, within certain age restrictions (e.g. the sale of tobacco and alcohol to under-age persons is prohibited). However, only tobacco products are specifically prohibited by legislation as sponsors and advertisers in the sport sector. A second ethical question that a sport must ask is:

'Does the absence of a legal barrier to product endorsement (tacit or direct association) make it acceptable?'

Many National Sporting Organisations have published their value statement(s); a typical value statement looks like this – '(name of NSO) is committed to the health, safety, and general well-being of all its members.' A third ethical question becomes:

'If a sport truly believes in its values, is there a conflict of interest when that sport endorses a product that has the potential to cause, or may be associated with, physical or social harm?'

The current debate regarding the ethics of sponsorship and marketing practices among national and state/territory sporting organisations (NSOs and SSOs) in Australia is ongoing, and the arguments for and against product sponsorship highlight these ethical dilemmas.

  • Sponsorship of junior sport development programs in Australia, Watson W, Brunner R, Wellard L and Hughes C, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, published online ahead of print (3 July 2016). This study investigated the nature and extent of unhealthy food and beverage, alcohol, and gambling sponsorship of children's sport development programs. Fifty-six websites of junior development sport programs associated with sporting organisations that received funding from the Australian Sporting Commission were analysed. Sponsors’ products were considered unhealthy if they were associated with alcohol or gambling companies or food/beverages that failed independent nutrition criteria (i.e. junk food). The websites of the sport development programs were also analysed for types of promotions available to children. The majority (91%) of food and beverage products displayed were considered unhealthy. Promotions associated with sponsors of unhealthy products included logo placement on homepages, naming rights for programs/teams/events, logos on sport uniforms, and branded participant packs. Two websites hosting junior development program information included an alcohol company sponsor and a gambling company sponsor.
  • Unhealthy product sponsorship of Australian national and state sports organizations, Macniven R, Kelly B and King L, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Volume 26, Number 1 (2015). The marketing of products that may be harmful to the health of children occurs across multiple media platforms and in many settings, including organised sport. The potential harm extends to compromising the health benefits inherent in sports participation as well as the implied health messages inherent in sports participation. This study investigated the nature and extent of unhealthy food, beverage, alcohol and gambling sponsorship across peak sporting organisations through website audits. A structured survey tool was used to identify and assess sponsoring companies and products displayed on the websites of the 53 national sporting organisations (NSOs) and their state or territory affiliates (SSOs). Identified products were classified as healthy or unhealthy, based on criteria developed by health experts. There was a total of 413 websites operated by the 53 sports, having 1,975 company or product sponsors identified. Overall, 39 sports had at least one unhealthy sponsor, and 10% of all sponsors were rated as unhealthy. Cricket had the highest percent of unhealthy sponsors (27%) and the highest number of unhealthy food and beverage sponsors at 19. Rugby Union and Australian Football had the highest numbers of alcohol and gambling sponsors, 16 and 4 respectively. Sponsorship of Australian governing bodies by companies promoting unhealthy food and beverage, alcohol and gambling products is prevalent at both state/territory and national level. The authors suggest that regulatory guidelines be established to limit such sponsorship and ensure that it is not translated into promotions that may reach and influence children.

Broader ethical considerations involve the balance between personal and social responsibility for decision making. Within the boundaries of the law (e.g. there are certain age restrictions on alcohol consumption and legal gambling activity) it's socially acceptable to consume alcoholic beverages, have a bet, and consume energy dense and nutrient poor (EDNP) foods and beverages. The context in which these actions are taken, and the frequency of the action, is often a consideration regarding whether the action is appropriate. When children are involved, responsibility may extend to parental attitudes and decisions.

  • Personal and Social Responsibility for Health, Wikler D, Chapter 6 in ‘Health, Ethics, Equity', Sudhir A, Fabienne P and Amartya S (Editors), Oxford University Press (2004). This chapter discuss the origins of health policy in terms of social and personal responsibility. People who live prudently are more likely to remain healthy, and the best scenario for most people is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Society can help to create a more supportive environment by providing information and adopting practices to minimise health risks. However, what individuals do, and the lifestyle choices they make, are often a matter of personal rather than social responsibility.

Several industries have a large stake in sports advertising and sponsorship. Alcohol, food and beverage, and gambling all have voluntary industry codes of practice. The activities of the tobacco industry are regulated by legislation and there are no sponsorship/advertising links with the Australian sport sector.

Within the alcohol manufacturing industry the major sector associations have come together to form a quasi-regulatory system for alcohol advertising known as the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code.  The industry has produced a code of practice and the signatories include the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand, the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. The management committee for the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code regularly publishes information regarding the type of complaints received.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has developed a self-regulatory code for advertising and marketing of food and beverage products. The intent of this Code is to ensure that advertisers and marketers maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising and marketing of these products in Australia.

Throughout Australia and New Zealand there are both legislation and voluntary industry codes of practice, under individual jurisdictions (State and Territory), that deal with gambling advertising. Information about industry practice is available on the Australasian Gaming Council’s website. Most of the voluntary codes of practice include these ‘responsible gambling’ principles for advertising: (1) clear provision of product information; (2) provision of written and/or verbal ‘responsible gambling’ messages and warnings; (3) provision of information regarding self-exclusion; and (4) information about assistance and counselling services. Australasian Gaming Council 

Wagering Advertising & Marketing Communication Code (PDF  - 37 KB), Australian Association of National Advertisers (2016). The Code is part of advertising and marketing self-regulation. The object of this Code is to ensure that advertisers and marketers develop and maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising and marketing wagering products in Australia.
Several provisions of the code are germane to sports’ settings, include:

Advertising or Marketing Communication for a Wagering Product or Service

  • must not, having regard to the theme, visuals and language used, be directed primarily to Minors.
  • must not state or imply a promise of winning.
  • must not depict a person placing a wager in combination with the consumption of alcohol.
  • must not portray, condone or encourage excessive participation in wagering activities.
  • must neither portray, condone or encourage peer pressure to gamble nor disparage abstention from wagering activities. 

Gambling-related harm: A Position Statement prepared for the Australian Psychological Society (PDF  - 591 KB), Australian Psychological Society (2012). The aim of this statement is to provide an overview of gambling-related harm in the Australian context and to position psychologists’ responses to gambling-related issues. The APS recognises that gambling forms part of an entertainment and tourism industry, and is a significant source of revenue to government and private enterprise. The APS also considers gambling to be a significant public health concern, due to the considerable harm it can cause to individuals, families and communities. The APS recognises the differential levels of risk associated with different types of gambling products. The APS urges State and Federal governments and industry to adopt policies that are well-informed, are based on independent research, and seek to protect the most vulnerable from gambling-related harm. The APS acknowledges that while a range of strategies have been developed to reduce gambling-related harm, voluntary industry compliance with these provisions has been inconsistent. Reluctance to apply effective prevention measures is attributed to conflicting interests, in that such measures inevitably threaten income generated through gambling.

The lessons learnt from tobacco sponsorship, advertising, and marketing (both in the sporting environment and more broadly) are being applied to alcohol, junk food and gambling in a present day context. The changing environment of sports broadcasting and the addition of social media as a marketing tool have added a new dimension to product association and endorsement.

The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) investigated the exposure level of alcohol and junk food advertising during television broadcasts of Australian Rules Football and Cricket (in its various formats). There is a large body of evidence suggesting that television advertising is an important influence on the values, attitudes, and behaviours of children and adolescents. As well as the specific content of advertising designed to target a specific market, the total volume and variety of advertising has an impact upon both product consumers and other viewers. Although children and adolescents may not be the sponsor’s target market, they are subjected to high levels of exposure.

Alcohol and junk food advertising and promotion through sport (PDF  - 666 KB), Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Research Highlights (2014). This research summary highlights the amount and the nature of alcohol and junk food advertising and promotion during sports broadcasting on television in Victoria. Key finding were:

  • Victorian television viewers were exposed to a higher volume of junk food and alcohol advertising during sports broadcasts than during other programming.
  • Nearly half of all junk food (45.7%) and alcohol advertisements (49.5%) broadcast during the period July 2010 through January 2011 were shown during sports broadcasts. This is despite the fact that sports broadcasts made up only 29% of programming.
  • When comparing in-game (ground and uniform signage) and in-break television advertising, it was clear that viewers had significantly more time exposure to alcohol and junk food products through in-game advertising than they did through in-break advertising.
  • The average in-game advertising time of alcohol and junk food products was 12% of total screen time across the Australian Football League (AFL) broadcasts. The average in-game advertising time across Test Cricket was 8%; 16% across One-Day International Cricket; and 61.3% across Twenty-20 broadcasts during the cricket season.

Given the high proportion of in-game and in-break advertising of alcohol and junk food during sporting broadcasts, which are extremely popular with children, VicHealth made the following recommendations: (1) the exemption in the Commercial Television Industry Code of practice, which allows alcohol advertising during live sports broadcasts, needs to be removed; (2) further investigation of the regulations on alcohol and junk food sponsorship in sport should be undertaken; (3) further research on the effects of in-game advertising on both televised and live audiences should be conducted to identify the corresponding effect that alcohol and junk food exposure has on consumption; and (4) further research is also needed into the actual ways in which advertising may, or may not, influence sport viewers consumption practices.

The exposure of sports gambling products on live sports broadcasts has also been recognised as having potential impacts upon viewer behaviour, particularly the young male (under the age of 25) demographic that may be attracted to sport. Despite the disclaimer, ‘gamble responsibly’, the intent of advertising is to produce strong emotional responses to a brand or product.

  • Affective response to gambling promotions during televised sport: A qualitative analysis, Lamont M, Hing N and Vitartas P, Sport Management Review, Volume 19, Issue 3 (2016). Gambling promotions punctuate contemporary televised sport broadcasts, and this raises concerns about their potential impacts on vulnerable groups, including children and youth. Research suggests advertising can shape individuals’ emotions and influence their behaviours toward a product or brand. Consequently, understanding how the promotion of gambling influences sport viewers is an important area of research. This paper presents exploratory research on affective responses towards gambling promotions displayed during televised sport. Thirty-nine regular sports viewers in Queensland (21 men and 18 women, age 18 to 29 years) participated in eight online focus groups. Participants were exposed to a variety of gambling promotions used in National Rugby League match telecasts. Gambling promotions embedded in televised sport include company logos and graphics, celebrity endorsement, static and dynamic advertising, and live studio cross-segments where gambling company representatives discuss movement of betting odds during a match. Embedding brand recognition and sponsor references in sports programs serves to optimise their effectiveness, especially to a young male target audience of sports fans. Data analysis revealed a range of affective responses which were broadly categorised into positive, negative and neutral affects. Four themes encapsulating positive affective responses to gambling promotions: arousal, optimism, excitement and joy. Negative affect manifested in the form of worry and anger; non-sports bettors expressed worry about the potentially harmful effects of gambling promotions on children and anger and irritation at being subjected to the promotions. Neutral affect (i.e. neither positive or negative) was reported in response to seeing a gambling company logo on a football player’s jersey. This exploratory research generated a ‘snapshot’ of emotional responses to gambling advertising, rather than a representative population response.
  • Children’s implicit recall of junk food, alcohol and gambling sponsorship in Australian sport, Bestman A, Thomas SL, Randle M and Thomas SD, BMC Public Health, Volume 15 (2015). Australian sport is saturated by the promotion of junk food, alcohol and gambling products. This research study aimed to investigate: (1) the extent to which children implicitly recalled shirt sponsors with the correct sporting team; (2) whether children associated some types of sponsors with certain sporting codes more than others, and; (3) whether age of the children influenced the correct recall of sponsoring brands and teams. This experimental study was conducted on children in New South Wales. It used projective techniques to measure the implicit recall of team sponsorship relationships on 85 children aged 5–12 years. Three quarters (77 %) of the children were able to identify at least one correct shirt sponsor. Children associated alcohol and gambling brands more highly with the more popular sporting code in NSW, the National Rugby League. Results showed that age had an effect on number of shirt sponsors correctly recalled with 9–12 year olds being significantly more likely than 5–8 year olds to correctly identify team sponsors. Given children’s ability to implicitly recall shirt sponsors in a sporting context, Australian sporting codes should re-examine their current sponsorship relationships to reduce the number of unhealthy commodity shirt sponsors. Results suggest that the promotion of unhealthy commodity products during sporting matches is contributing to increased awareness amongst children of unhealthy commodity brands. Further investigation is required to examine the extent and impact of marketing initiatives during televised sporting matches on children.
  • Eat, drink and gamble: marketing messages about ‘risky’ products in an Australian major sporting series, Lindsay S, Thomas S, Lewis S, Westberg K, Moodie R and Jones S, BMC Public Health, Volume 13, published online (2013). This research investigated the alcohol, gambling, and unhealthy food marketing strategies during the 2012 National Rugby League ‘State of Origin’ three-game series that was broadcast on free-to-air television in Australia. Analysis of the content, frequency, duration, and placement of advertising during the series was undertaken. A total of 4445 advertising episodes, representing 233 minutes, was directed toward the marketing of alcoholic beverages, gambling products, and unhealthy foods and beverages during the series. On a per-telecast basis this was an average of 1354 episodes (66 minutes) of alcohol marketing; 110 episodes of gambling marketing, and 17 episodes of unhealthy food and beverage marketing during each game.  Content analysis revealed that there was a considerable embedding of product marketing within the match play, including within match commentary and special replays. Sport is increasingly used as a vehicle for the promotion of a range of ‘risky consumption’ products. This study raises important ethical and health policy questions about the extent and impact of saturation advertising and the transparency of embedded marketing strategies and how these strategies may influence product consumption.
  • “Food company sponsors are kind, generous and cool”: (Mis)conceptions of junior sports players, Kelly B, Baur L, Bauman A, King L, Chapman K and Smith B, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 8 (2011). Children's exposure to unhealthy food marketing may influence their food knowledge, preferences and consumption. Sport sponsorship by food companies is widespread and industry investment in this marketing is increasing. This study aimed to assess children's awareness of sport sponsors and their brand-related attitudes and purchasing intentions in response to this marketing. The study found that 68% of the children surveyed could recall sponsors of their sports club and that sponsors were ‘cool’. Most children had received a voucher or certificate from a food or beverage company to reward sport performance (86% for food and 76% for beverage) and around one-third of children reported liking the company more after receiving these rewards.
  • Sponsorship of junior sport development programs in Australia, Wendy L. Watson, Rebecca Brunner, Lyndal Wellard, & Clare Hughes. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, (3 July 2016). This study investigated the nature and extent of unhealthy food, beverage, alcohol and gambling sponsors of children's sport development programs. There were 246 sponsors identified. Eleven (4.5%) sponsors were food, beverage, alcohol or gambling companies of which 10 (91%) were unhealthy. Surf Lifesaving (n=4) and athletics (n=3) websites had the highest number of unhealthy sponsors. The majority of food and beverage company sponsors in sport development programs are companies associated with unhealthy products. Two websites hosting junior development program information included an alcohol company sponsor and a gambling company sponsor.
  • Building solutions to protect children from unhealthy food and drink sport sponsorship (PDF  - 753 KB), B Kelly, K Chapman, LA Baur, A Bauman, L King, B Smith, Cancer Council NSW/University of Sydney, (May 2013). Cancer Council NSW and the Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney conducted research to determine the scope of unhealthy food and drink sponsorship of children’s sport, the effect of this sponsorship on children, and potential solutions to create healthier sponsorship arrangements.

Advocacy groups have formed to highlight their concern that junk food advertising has a particularly high impact upon children and their food choices. The Australian population experiences a high rate of overweight and obesity, which has been shown to lead to lifetime health risks. The obesity problem has (in part) been attributed to the increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar, together with an inadequate level of physical exercise. There is concern that foods that may be considered in the 'junk food' category are marketed to children through sports advertising and sponsorship. In addition, current industry codes of practice are voluntary and their effectiveness in protecting children from 'unhealthy' advertising messages has been questioned.

  • The harmful impacts of unhealthy food sponsorship in children’s sporting settings: the need for action (PDF  - 304 KB), Obesity Policy Coalition, Policy Brief (2014). Advertising activities, including sponsorship of sport and community events by food brands and products are known to positively shape children’s food preferences. It is therefore unsurprising that food companies are increasingly taking up sponsorship of professional and grass-roots sporting clubs and events in our communities as a marketing opportunity. This paper provides background information on: (1) the growing body of evidence of the impact this kind of marketing activity has on children’s brand attitudes, food preferences and diets; (2) the current and emerging profile of sports sponsorship as a marketing activity in Australia, and; (3) legal, policy and program options for Australian federal and state governments to reduce children’s exposure to potentially harmful marketing.
  • Food advertising voluntary codes (PDF  - 253 KB), Obesity Policy Coalition, Policy Brief (2012). The food industry’s voluntary advertising codes may not protect children from exposure to unhealthy food advertising. The codes do not prevent unhealthy food advertising during the highest rating children’s programs and televised sport, do not cover all forms of promotion, do not apply to all food advertisers, and contain unclear and inadequate nutrition criteria. Provisions of existing codes are narrowly interpreted by the Advertising Standards Board. The Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) was released in 2009; it applies to food and beverage advertising, but not ‘fast food’ restaurant advertising, and is directed primarily at children under 12 years by food companies that are signatories to the RCMI. The Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative (QSRI) was also released in 2009 and applies to fast food advertising that is directed primarily at children under 12 years by companies that are signatories. The intent of these voluntary codes is to ensure that food advertising that is directed primarily to children will represent healthier choices. This paper argues the case that voluntary codes of advertising are ineffective and cites examples of advertising in children’s sport, including: KFC Queensland Junior Cricket; KFC Sydney Junior Cricket Twenty20 competition; Milo sponsorship of kid’s cricket, such as Milo-in-2-Cricket, Milo Kanga Cricket, Milo Super 8s, and Milo Summer of Cricket; Cottees Five-a-Side Football; McDonald’s Hooptime Basketball and McDonald’s sponsorship of Little Athletics. 
  • Restricting unhealthy food sponsorship: Attitudes of the sporting community, Kelly B, Baur L, Bauman A, King L, Chapman K and Smith B, Health Policy, Volume 104, Issue 3 (2012). Some health agencies have recommended that sports should restrict sponsorship opportunities for foods that may contribute to childhood obesity. This study aimed to determine the junior sporting community's support for policy interventions that might restrict unhealthy food sponsorship. Australian sports clubs known to have food sponsors, representing the most popular sports for Australian children across a range of demographic areas, were recruited for this study. Interviews and questionnaires were used to collect information from parents and officials within clubs and their governing sporting associations. Questionnaires measured respondents’ attitudes towards sponsorship and support for sponsorship regulations. The results indicated that 65% of association officials, 53% of parents, and 45% of club officials perceived that children were ‘very’ influenced by food sponsorship. Half of officials surveyed and 70% of parents responded that they would support restrictions to children’s sport sponsorship, particularly the use of product logos on children’s uniforms. 

Many individual athletes, as well as teams and sporting organisations, have embraced sponsorship of junk food products. Companies seek out high profile athletes because of their influence and popularity, particularly among children and adolescents.

  • Sports star endorsement works a treat on junk food packaging, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 28 May 2013. A study undertaken by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) at Cancer Council Victoria, surveyed 1,300 children around 11 years of age and found that young boys were most influenced by celebrity endorsements from male athletes. The likelihood of boys choosing an unhealthy food was 65 per cent higher when it featured a sports celebrity endorsement.
 Australia map

Federal

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) operated from 2010 to 2014, its responsibilities have since been transferred to the Department of Health. The ANPHA introduced the program ‘Be the Influence’ (Tackling Binge Drinking) as a key part of its anti-binge drinking strategy. Sixteen National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) made an ethical decision and pledged to ‘Be the Influence’ by providing sporting environments, from national through to community level, that were alcohol-promotion free. The program aimed to break the links between alcohol promotion and sporting activities, and more importantly, send a message to young people that they have the support of their sporting heroes and their families to stand up and ‘Be the Influence’ to tackle the binge drinking culture. 

The Australian Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform has looked at the social and economic impacts associated with legal gambling and has issued three reports.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) was established under the National Gambling Reform Act 2012 and has been in operation since 1 July 2013. The AGRC aims to provide high-quality evidence-based publications and resources to increase the capacity and capability of policy-makers, researchers and professionals working in the area of gambling. AGRC research covers an extensive range of topics including: the harm caused by gambling; measures that may be undertaken to reduce harm; and statistics and data on recreational gambling. Research Directions 2014-17.


 Victoria map
 

Victoria (VIC)

The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) seeks to make health gains among Victorians by pre-empting and targeting improvements in health across the population. VicHealth uses four unique approaches to carry out their mandate to prevent chronic disease: (1) VicHealth has a primary role as an independent statutory authority to advise governments and contribute to the efforts of various government portfolios; (2) VicHealth implements a comprehensive and inclusive approach to health; (3) VicHealth creates conditions in which good health can flourish – from better public policy and healthy urban environments to more inclusive and respectful communities; (4) Vichealth supports research and accumulates a robust evidence base, and: (5) VicHealth works in partnership with governments, organisations, communities, and individuals in a broad range of sectors; including sport, recreation, community, urban planning, research, transport, local government, education, arts and business.

VicHealth has a legislative mandate to allocate at least 30% of their government appropriation to sports organisations.


 Western Australia map
 

Western Australia (WA)

Healthway is a health promotion foundation, with a legislated obligation to promote good health and encourage healthy lifestyles. Healthway fulfils this obligation by promoting and facilitating programs that build healthier lifestyles, policies and environments, and by empowering individuals, groups, and communities to be healthier.

Healthway's Sport Sponsorship Program provides support for community organisations and their programs and events within the sport and active recreation sector. The aim is to significantly change behaviours and environments to improve health by: (1) encouraging healthy lifestyles through the effective promotion of health messages; (2) facilitating structural and policy change within organisations and at venues to create healthy environments; (3) facilitating opportunities for priority population groups to participate in healthy activities, with either physical activity and/or social engagement benefits, and; (4) reducing the promotion of unhealthy messages or brands which undermine Healthway objectives.

Maintaining relevance: an evaluation of health message sponsorship at Australian community sport and arts events, Rosenberg M and Ferguson R, BMC Public Health, Volume 14 (2014). Health message sponsorship at community sport and arts events is an established part of health promotion strategies. However, competition with commercial sponsorship of sport and community events may impact upon consumer attention and potentially reduce the impact of health messages. This study evaluated consumer awareness, understanding, and behavioural intentions related to health messages promoted at community sport and arts events. Interviews and surveys were completed by 2259 adults attending one of 29 sport or arts events held in Western Australia between 2008 and 2013. The analysis of results showed that health message sponsorship, at least within a comprehensive sponsorship program, appears to remain an effective health promotion strategy for generating public awareness and encouraging behavioural intention. Health promotion messaging remains relevant within a complex sponsorship environment.


 

Many countries face common issues that impact upon public health: (1) how to reduce the rate of obesity, and (2) how to increase the level of physical activity. Public policy has generally focused on ‘encouraging’ the population through promotional campaigns, education, and active programs that facilitate healthier lifestyle choices rather than enacting legislation designed to affect change. The promotion of sport and physical activity is often used as a means of increasing public awareness about health. However, there is considerable evidence that suggests free market forces, including sponsorship and advertising of foods and beverages that do not contribute to optimal health, may undo (or reduce) the benefits of sport and physical activity. There are two concerns: (1) the short-term effect of 'unhealthy' food and beverage choices, and (2) the long-term impact that dietary habits formed during childhood may have on future health risk factors.

Europe FlagEuropean Union

  • EU action plan on childhood obesity (PDF  - 332 KB), European Union (updated March 2014). This report identifies eight areas for action by EU member nations: (1) support a healthy start in life (2) promote healthier environments, especially at schools and pre-schools; (3) make the healthy option, the easier option; (4) restrict marketing and advertising to children; (5) inform and empower families; (6) encourage physical activity; (7) monitor and evaluate, and; (8) increase research.
  • European Sponsorship Association (ESA). The ESA was formed in 2003 as a result of a merger between two leading sponsorship bodies, the European Sponsorship Consultants Association and the Institute for Sports Sponsorship. Its mission statement includes: (1) setting standards for responsible best practice and self-regulation within the industry; (2) improving knowledge; (3) promoting values and ethics, and; (4) supporting the industry through education and training.

United Kingdom flagUnited Kingdom

  • Childhood obesity – brave and bold action (PDF  - 683 KB), Parliament of the United Kingdom, House of Commons Health Committee, Report HC 465 (30 November 2015). This report concludes that the scale and consequences of childhood obesity demand bold and urgent action from Government. The recommendations made by this Committee have a strong focus on changing the food environment. Overall, the Committee’s recommendations are intended to reduce sugar in people’s diets through a number of possible government controls on unhealthy food and drink, including price (taxation), labelling requirements; education and information campaigns; food standards; and marketing/advertising restrictions. This report endorses Public Health England’s many recommendations regarding broader and deeper controls on advertising and marketing to children, including sponsorship of children’s sports and sporting events, of foods and beverages containing high amounts of sugar, salt and fat. 
  • Drinks brands and sports bodies endorse first UK alcohol sponsorship code, Gemma Charles, Marketing Magazine, 31 January 2014. The introduction of the code is designed to fend off calls by campaigners such as Alcohol Concern who would like to see a complete ban on alcohol sports sponsorship. This is the first UK-wide alcohol sponsorship code and introduces a new and binding commitment for all drinks companies to promote responsible drinking through their sponsorship agreements.
  • Code of Practice on Alcohol Sponsorship, first edition (January 2014). The drinks industry in the United Kingdom is determined that sponsorship agreements with sporting organisations are implemented responsibly. This guide encourages drinks producers, leading sports, and venue operators to promote responsible drinking. 

USA FlagUnited States

The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth has looked at the impact of marketing strategies for food and beverages on children and youth. A comprehensive review of the evidence has been published and several recommendations made.

  • Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? McGinnis M, Gootman J and Kraak V (Editors), National Academy Press, Washington D.C. (2006). How marketing affects the perspectives and behaviours of children and youth, including their diets, has been a subject of discussion and research for decades. This report represents a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence assessing the influence of marketing on the nutritional beliefs, choices, practices, and outcomes for children and youth. Evidence suggests that children develop consumer socialisation skills between the ages of 2 and 11 as part of their cognitive maturation. At this age there is concern about young children’s limited ability to comprehend the nature and purpose of advertising, and about the appropriateness or impact of food marketing to which they are exposed. This review determined there is strong evidence that television (and other media) advertising influences food and beverage preferences and purchase requests among children 2 to 11 years of age. There is also moderate evidence that TV advertising influences food and beverage beliefs among children. This review also concluded that marketing practices geared to children and youth are out of balance with recommendations for a healthy diet and contribute to an environment that puts children’s long-term health at risk. Also, public policies and programs do not currently have sufficient support or authority to address marketing practices that influence the diets of children and youth.
  • Sports Sponsorships of Food and Nonalcoholic Beverages, Marie A. Bragg, Alysa N. Miller, Christina A. Roberto, Pediatrics, (March 2018). This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of food and beverage sponsorship of US sports organizations. Food and beverage companies were the second largest category of sponsors, and the majority of food and beverages in sponsorship commercials were unhealthy.

resources iconResources

Research iconResearch

  • A systematic review of persuasive marketing techniques to promote food to children on television, Jenkin G, Madhvani N, Signal L and Bowers S, Obesity Reviews, Volume 15, Number 4 (2014).  The marketing of energy-dense, nutrient-poor food and beverages is a key modifiable influence on childhood dietary patterns and obesity. This review identifies the most frequently documented persuasive marketing techniques to promote food to children via television. A systematic search of eight online databases using key search terms identified 267 unique articles. A narrative synthesis of the reviewed studies revealed the most commonly reported persuasive techniques used on television to promote food to children were: (1) the use of premium offers, (2) promotional characters, (3) nutrition and health-related claims, (4) the theme of taste, and (5) the emotional appeal of fun. Identifying and documenting these commonly reported persuasive marketing techniques to promote food to children on television is critical for the monitoring and evaluation of advertising codes and industry pledges and the development of further regulation in this area. Regulating marketing and advertising has strong potential in curbing the international obesity epidemic besieging children throughout the world.
  • Athlete endorsements in food marketing, Bragg M, Yanamadala S, Roberto C, Harris J, and Brownell K, Pediatrics, (published online 7 October 2013). One hundred professional athletes were selected on the basis of Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2010 Power 100 rankings, which ranks athletes according to their endorsement value and prominence in their sport. This study quantified professional athletes’ endorsement of food and beverages, evaluated the nutritional quality of endorsed products, and determined the number of television commercial exposures of athlete-endorsement commercials for children, adolescents, and adults. Of 512 brands endorsed by 100 different athletes, food and beverages accounted for nearly 24%. Professional athletes in this sample were associated with 44 different food or beverage brands during 2010 and 79% of those food products were energy-dense and nutrient-poor and over 93% of the beverages had all of their calories from added sugar. Adolescents saw a high percentage of television commercials that featured athlete endorsements of food. This study concluded that youth are exposed to professional athlete endorsements of food products that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor.
  • Brand community and sports betting in Australia (PDF  - 842 KB), Gordon R and Chapman M, Macquarie University, research report for the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (2014). This research explores the presence and use of brand community in relation to sports betting. Three key markers of brand community have been previously identified in the research literature: (1) consciousness of kind – a sense of togetherness between consumers in the community; (2) rituals and traditions – customs associated with consumption of the brand, and; (3) shared moral responsibility – integrating members into, and fostering a sense of sympathy between consumers in the community. A content analysis of contemporary sports betting marketing on websites and television during live sports events (National Rugby League and Australian Football League) was undertaken to identify markers of brand community. Focus groups of young (age 18 to 30 years) adult gamblers from Victoria discussed their awareness of, and response to, these markers. The findings suggest that sports betting marketing appears to be heavily embedded with community cultures surrounding sport. Language used in marketing identifies with the game, its rituals and traditions and the sense of community togetherness often present in sport settings. These findings suggest that gambling marketing had a role in socialising consumers to sports betting through the embedded nature of sports betting brands with these iconic Australian sporting codes.
  • Community attitudes survey: Healthy community sporting environments (PDF  - 593 KB), Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2010). This VicHealth survey looked at attitudes toward alcohol and junk food in sporting environments. Key findings regarding junk food and grassroots sporting clubs included: (1) more than half the clubs surveyed indicated there is not enough healthy food sold at sports clubs and events; (2) 81% would support the removal of junk food sponsorship from clubs if help was given to replace lost revenue; (3) 77% would support a levy on junk food advertising if funds generated were allocated to community sports, and; (4) eight out of ten people agreed it is the responsibility of community sports clubs to promote healthy eating.
  • Creating symbolic cultures of consumption: an analysis of the content of sports wagering advertisements in Australia, Deans E, Thomas S, Daube M, Derevensky J and Gordon R, BMC Public Health, (published online 1 March 2016). Australia has experienced a rapid increase in the marketing of online and mobile sports wagering. Previous research from other areas of public health, such as tobacco and alcohol, has identified the range of appeal strategies these industries used to align their products with culturally valued symbols, such as sport. This study analyses the content of 85 sports wagering advertisements from 11 Australian and multinational wagering companies. Ten major appeal strategies emerged from this analysis: (1) sports fan rituals and behaviours; (2) mateship; (3) gender stereotypes; (4) winning; (5) social status; (6) adventure, thrill and risk; (7) happiness; (8) sexualised imagery; (9) power and control, and; (10 patriotism. Over three quarters of advertisements utilised visual or verbal imagery relating to sports fan rituals and behaviours. Qualitative analyses revealed the way in which these ads present themes that specifically link wagering with aspects of sports fans existing match experiences and mateship.
  • Food and beverage company sponsorship of children’s sport: Publicity or philanthropy? (PDF  - 2.8 MB), Kelly B, PhD [Thesis], University of Sydney (2012). Children’s exposure to food marketing affects the food and drink choices they make; the brands they request, purchase and consume. Sport sponsorship is a significant form of marketing because it’s directed at children’s activities, allowing brands to be embedded within children’s experiences of fun and socialisation. Six studies were conducted as part of this research: (1) a telephone survey of sports clubs; (2) a website analysis of sporting organisations; (3) an analysis of children’s sport participation (taken from statistical surveys); (4) interviews at clubs with parents, children and officials to determine attitudes toward sponsorship; (5) a representative phone survey of parents and an online survey of children, and; (6) a Delphi survey of experts in health promotions. This research found that most food companies sponsoring junior sports did not meet independently developed criteria for healthy sponsors. Children perceived sponsors to have positive brand attributes and they were encouraged to purchase sponsor’s products. Parents and the junior sporting community were generally supportive of regulatory interventions to restrict unhealthy food and beverage company sponsorship at children’s sport.
  • Managing stakeholder relationships in conjunction with a public health agenda: A case study of community sport events in New Zealand (PDF  - 3.2 MB), Batty R, PhD Thesis, Griffith University (2013). Existing research suggests that the taboo of sport sponsorship has been traditionally confined to tobacco and alcohol products.  Attitudes are now evolving to incorporate sugary beverages and high fat/salt content fast foods.  Such products are seen (by some event stakeholders and community members) as detrimental to public health initiatives, contributing to health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  As a result, some organisations involved in community sport events are receiving criticism over the types of products chosen as sport sponsors. Public concern in New Zealand has raised the level of corporate social responsibility in relation to sport sponsorship because of the association sport has with personal fitness, healthy living and active lifestyle.  This would suggest that there is a narrowing of product sponsors as likely sport event sponsors. 
  • Marketing obesity? Junk food, advertising and kids (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Jolly R, Parliamentary Library Research Paper Number 9 (2010-11). Advocacy groups have urged governments to place limitations on the advertising of junk foods, particularly to children. In opposition, other organisations put forward the argument that junk food can be part of a balanced diet and that it should be the responsibility of individuals, including children and parents, to make decisions about what they consume. This paper considers both sides of this debate.
  • Parents want to see junk food marketing kicked out of children’s sports, Cancer Council of New South Wales. The Cancer Council and the University of Sydney surveyed 825 parents and 243 children about junk food marketing in sports. More than 70% of parents would like to see junk food marketing kicked out of children’s sports and more than half of the children surveyed could recall at least one sporting event from the past year that had a food or beverage sponsor and 65% could recall at least one sponsor of their favourite team or athlete.
  • Regulation of alcohol advertising: Policy options for Australia (PDF  - 475 KB), Jones S and Gordon R, Faculty of Social Sciences Papers, University of Wollongong Research Online (2013). Australian research has found that alcohol advertisements contain imagery and messages that young people interpret as suggesting that alcohol consumption will have positive psychological and social outcomes. This paper aims to provide clear information for policy makers on the effectiveness of Australia’s current system of regulating the content of alcohol advertising; and on how this differs from (or is consistent with) the systems of New Zealand, Canada and the UK. This review suggests that given the wealth of evidence identifying associations between alcohol advertising and drinking behaviours, and the apparent failures of the coregulatory system operating in Australia and several other countries, policy makers in Australia and New Zealand should seriously consider the introduction of a comprehensive system of statutory regulation as a matter of priority.
  • Sports Sponsorships of Food and Nonalcoholic Beverages, Marie A. Bragg, Alysa N. Miller, Christina A. Roberto, Pediatrics, (March 2018). This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of food and beverage sponsorship of US sports organizations. Food and beverage companies were the second largest category of sponsors, and the majority of food and beverages in sponsorship commercials were unhealthy.
  • Unhealthy sponsorship in sport: a case study of the AFL, Ainslie Sartori, Melissa Stoneham, Melinda Edmunds, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, (published online 27 August 2018). The authors completed an audit of AFL club websites and playing uniforms to identify sponsors and then used a traffic light system to categorise them. Food and beverage sponsors were classified as Red, Amber or Green using nutrient criteria. Alcohol sponsors were classified as Red. Gambling sponsors were classified as Red (wagering companies and casinos) or Amber (venues that provide gambling and other services). Sponsors promoting healthy lifestyle concepts were classified as Green. All other sponsors were classified as Other. The results showed that Unhealthy sponsorship on AFL club websites and player uniforms is extensive. All 18 clubs had at least one Red sponsor. Fifteen clubs were sponsored by alcohol companies. Five clubs featured Red sponsor logos on their playing uniforms. Twelve clubs had Green sponsors. No clubs displayed Green sponsors on their playing uniforms.

ReadingReading

  • A losing bet? Alcohol and gambling: Investigating parallels and shared solutions (PDF  - 1.2 MB), Leyshonb M and Sakhuja R, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales (2013). Problematic gambling and misuse of alcohol can both be regarded as significant health problems that have potentially harmful social consequences. There is increasingly strong evidence of an association between problematic gambling and alcohol consumption. Whilst further research is needed in this area, the prevalence of problem gambling and substance misuse (e.g. alcohol and drugs) is widely observed in treatment settings. As the alcohol and gambling industries expand, they employ increasingly sophisticated marketing techniques; therefore, it is likely that the incidence of people suffering alcohol and gambling addictions will increase. This report makes eight recommendations: (1) further research is needed into the effects of ‘opportunities’ to consume alcohol and gamble; (2) greater protection must be afforded to children and young people, regarding access and exposure; (3) provision of suitable advice and treatment options for persons affected by addiction; (4) screening for problem gambling alongside treatment for alcohol problems; (5) greater awareness of problem gambling and the potential effects; (6) a national database to capture the scope of the problem (with respect to links between the two types of addiction); (7) more research into how best to identify problem gambling; and (8) consideration be given to a greater role for the Department of Health in gambling policy.
  • Big Junk is just as evil as Big Tobacco, Mike Daube, The Age (28 October 2013). We sometimes hear that obesity is ''the new tobacco''. It has been 63 years of accumulated evidence that smoking kills, and in Australia we have seen a dramatic decline in smoking. A comprehensive approach, including public education, legislation and product and packaging controls has made an impact. How different is obesity? Food policy is often led by industry or agriculture, not by health departments, and voluntary codes for the advertising of junk food are feeble and poorly enforced, with no penalties.
  • Corporate social responsibility in sport: An overview and key issues, Godfrey P, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 23 (2009). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be viewed as either blood money to atone for past sins, or as image production and projection that masks naked self-interest. For the hopeful, CSR presents an opportunity for corporations and sport entities to: (1) reconnect with their espoused values, and; (2) reflect a concern for social issues and leverage their favoured institutional status to help resolve problems and alleviate human suffering.
  • Despite the promises, children still bombarded with junk food ads (PDF  - 274 KB), The International Association for the Study of Obesity, press release (17 July 2013). Advertising of junk food continues to undermine children’s health despite the food industry’s pledges that they would restrict their marketing activities, according to a systematic review of evidence published today in the scientific journal Obesity Reviews. The review examines children’s exposure to advertisements for food and beverages high in sugar and fat, and found that independent surveys in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America showed little change in the last five years, despite industry’s assurances that things would improve.
  • FA announces end to all sponsorship deals with betting companies, Kelner M, The Guardian (22 June 2017). England’s Football Association (FA) will no longer have a betting partner after terminating a contract with Ladbrokes worth around £4m a year following a string of high-profile gambling controversies in the sport. The FA conducted a three-month review, looking at the appropriateness of such a sponsorship relationship in light of stricter enforcement of its ban on gambling by those connected with football. The English Football League (EFL) has a sponsorship agreement with Sky Bet, but believes there is no conflict of interest.
  • Food and beverage marketing to children in the ACT: persistent, pervasive, persuasive (PDF  - 3.6 MB), Heart Foundation Australia, Australian Capital Territory branch (2015). Research funded by ACT Health provides a snapshot of food and beverage marketing to children, ages 0 to 14 years. Although there are limitations to the use of terms such as ‘unhealthy’, the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines (NHSCG) system was used to distinguish whether a food or beverage was considered healthy or unhealthy. Children are exposed to an enormous amount of marketing from food and beverage suppliers; when they watch television, surf the internet, read magazines, visit the supermarket and participate in sport. There is a growing body of evidence to show that food and beverage marketing influences the dietary habits of children and may contribute to unwanted weight gain. This survey audited the food and beverage marketing practices in public and commercial spaces, including sports venues, in the ACT. Overall, from 940 situations, 78% of the marketing featured unhealthy products. Only six local sporting venues and nine local sporting organisations were included in the audit. Venues contained 66 examples of food and beverage marketing and 86% of these represented unhealthy products. The sporting organisations were selected because of their high participation among children, approximately 34,500 participants in total. Four of these sporting organisations received sponsorship from suppliers promoting unhealthy products, according to the NHSCG; one organisation was sponsored by a supplier of healthy products; and four organisations did not have a food or beverage sponsor. The four organisations sponsored by unhealthy food and beverage products used a combination of marketing methods; including logos on uniforms and equipment, discount certificates for products, and sponsorship of awards and recognition (i.e. ‘player of the week’). This report acknowledges the sampling and statistical limitations of this audit, but concludes that (overall) there was a high incidence of food and beverage advertisements for discretionary choice products that were high in fat, sugar, and/or salt content. 
  • Marketing and advertising online sports betting: A problem gambling perspective, Lopez-Gonzalez H, Estevez A and Griffiths M, Journal of Sport and social Issues, (2017). Online betting has transformed sports betting from a periodical (i.e. subject to availability) to a continuous (i.e. globally accessible and permanently available) form of gambling; this has arguably changed the nature of the practice and raises questions about its potentially detrimental consequences. This article looks at online sports betting, with the objective of critically examining the potential impact on problem gambling and the emergence of product features and advertising techniques used to market gambling. First, the authors review the extent of the issue, sports betting prevalence rates and its association with gambling disorders. Second, the authors looked at the methods used to market online betting products. Third, they highlight some of the most prevalent advertising narratives employed by the betting industry, and the implications for problem gamblers and minors.
  • Most Australian adults want fast food chains like McDonald's and KFC to stop sponsoring kids' sport, Amy Bainbridge, ABC News (14 December 2013). A national survey of more than 1,200 adults, aged 18 to 64, was conducted by the Centre for Behavioural Research at Cancer Council Victoria and the Obesity Policy Coalition. Most Australian adults are unhappy with fast food chains sponsoring children's sport, this research shows.
  • Only 5 clubs profit without pokies, Jake Niall, The Age, 25 March 2014. Only five AFL clubs made a profit in 2013 without the assistance of poker machines. The five clubs that made a profit without non-football revenue, almost all of which is from poker machine venues, were Collingwood, Richmond, West Coast, Fremantle and North Melbourne. The Kangaroos are the clear outlier from that group of five and, according to the club, made a profit of $1.3 million in 2013 as a result of running a very low-cost operation. Even Hawthorn, the 2013 premier and one of the game’s most financially robust clubs, had a profit that was assisted by pokie earnings. The Hawks made a healthy profit of $3.1 million in 2013, but they are understood to have earned more than $4 million from their lucrative Waverley Gardens gaming venue, and have plans to earn more from their new Caroline Springs venue.
  • Parents’ Voice – Fame & Shame Awards. Parents’ Voice is an online network of parents who are interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian children. Formally known as The Parents’ Jury, the network was formed in 2004 and now represents many thousands of Australian parents. Parents’ Voice is supported by Diabetes Victoria, Cancer Council Australia, VicHealth, Bluearth and YMCA Australia. Parents’ Voice presents its annual ‘fame & shame’ awards to recognise the best (fame) and worst (shame) advertising and marketing of food and beverage products. Marketing of ‘junk food’ though sports and sports personalities is prominent in Australia; however, recent campaigns that market/promote healthy food choices are becoming more popular.
  • Should nutritional supplements and sports drinks companies sponsor sport? A short review of the ethical concerns (abstract), Outram S and Stewart B, Journal of Medical Ethics, published online (22 September 2014). This paper proposes that the sponsorship of sport by nutritional supplements and sport drinks companies should be re-examined in the light of ethical concerns about the closeness of this relationship. Particular consideration is given to the health implications of these concerns. The authors make the case that sport may have found itself lending unwarranted credibility to products which would otherwise not necessarily be seen as beneficial for participation in sports and exercise or as inherently healthy products. 
  • Unibet and Bet365 convicted of illegal advertising, NSW Government, Department of Justice, Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (19 January 2016). Popular online sports betting companies Unibet and Bet 365 were prosecuted by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing for advertising breaches. NSW’s Betting and Racing Regulation 2012 prohibits advertising that offers inducements to participate in gambling activity. Both companies offered credit and reward inducements for sports betting in their advertisements; such as ‘Bonus Money’, ‘First Bet Refunds’ and ‘Loyalty Bonuses’.
  • WACA dumps booze, fast food, Cathy O'Leary, The West Australian (3 September 2013). Western Australia Cricket is dumping its alcohol and junk food promotion in return for a record $2.1 million sponsorship deal with Healthway. The WA Cricket Association's three-year agreement marks the end of sponsorship by alcohol company Lion and soft drink company Coca-Cola, whose signs and logos will disappear from the WACA Ground and district clubs and uniforms.

Video iconVideos

  • Lessons from the removal of tobacco sponsorship from sport. FARE Australia,/YouTube (17 September 2017). A couple of decades back tobacco advertising was plastered across Australian sports events. Then a rugby league club President spoke out. David Hill led the North Sydney Bears, and wanted an end to tobacco sponsorship. He told Di Martin it’s a story of power, influence and bullying by an industry that controlled the way we thought about sport. Like the name of the rugby league competition.  

Related Topics



 



Is this information complete? 

The Clearinghouse for Sport is a sector-wide knowledge sharing initiative, and as such your contributions are encouraged and appreciated. If you would like to suggest a resource, submit a publication, or provide feedback on this topic, please contact us.
Alternatively, if you would like to be kept up to date with research and information published about this topic, please request a research profile setup.