This study identified 1806 brand appearances during the 13 matches selected for analysis. The McDonald’s brand was the most frequently observed (33.3%) followed by Budweiser (30.5%), Coca-Cola (25.7%) and Powerade (10.5%). HFSS brand appearance accounted for approximately 69.5% (McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Powerade) of all brand appearances in selected matches, while liquor brand appearance accounted for 30, remaining 5% (Budweiser). Brand appearance (both HFSS and alcohol) in Group G matches was higher than Group A matches, and higher in matches played by the host country (Russia, despite the ban on alcohol advertising) than other Group G matches, although these differences were not statistically significant. Brand appearance time accounted for 22.5% of total playtime for the 13 selected matches, and McDonald’s, Budweiser, Coca Cola, and Powerade appearance accounted for 7, 6.9, 5.6, and 3%, respectively. of playing time. The majority of the mark appearance (46.5%) occurred along the side lines of the pitch only, while 40.6% of all mark appearances occurred simultaneously on the side line and the goal line. These brand appearances generated substantial audience exposure, delivering 3.7 billion liquor and 6.7 billion HFSS total gross impressions. This study also revealed that 852 million HFSS impressions and 354 million alcohol impressions were also delivered to UK children who watched the 13 selected matches. Our study thus provides evidence that the 2018 FIFA World Cup was a source of significant exposure of children, youth and adults to HFSS brand and alcohol advertising through sports sponsorship and is likely to contribute to the consumption of alcohol and HFSS by young people and adults.
Available evidence indicates that alcohol advertising and HFSS, particularly among children, can influence eating behavior [33, 34] and food choices leading to an increased risk of obesity and associated morbidities [35, 36]. Advertising at sporting events is common practice and has been identified as the main means of promoting alcohol and the drink to the general population . Budweiser and Coca Cola have historically been major sponsors of several sporting events, such as stock car racing, the Olympics, and major football competitions. . Budweiser and Coca Cola spent $350 million and $265 million respectively on sports sponsorship in 2016 . McDonald’s was the main sponsor of the Olympics and contributed approximately $1 billion every four years before ending sponsorship in 2018. . Powerade is also an official sponsor of many international sporting events including the Rio 2016 Olympics, Australian Olympic Committee, football events, rugby union and cricket. .
Although alcohol and HFSS advertising to adults is permitted in the UK, such advertising is subject to regulations designed to protect children and young adults, particularly where the percentage of young viewers exceeds 30% of the target audience. . With regard to alcohol, the code aims to prevent the general appeal of these products to children and young adults [18, 19, 39]. However, although Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code limits the content of programmes, the regulator has no jurisdiction over sponsorship of televised sporting events and the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s broadcast regulator advertising, does not regulate advertisements at the location of televised sporting events due to their definition. advertising . Alcohol and HFSS advertising through sponsorship at televised sporting events is therefore, for practical purposes, currently unregulated.
Our analysis shows that the 2018 FIFA World Cup was a major source of exposure for children and young people in the UK and is likely to contribute to HFSS and alcohol consumption. These results are consistent with findings indicating that alcohol advertising, particularly to children, can influence behavior leading to an increased risk of associated morbidities . The earlier children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the sooner they start drinking [40, 41]. Children who otherwise might not have thought of alcohol start thinking “is this the product for me” every time they see alcohol advertisements [40, 41]. If these young people are already drinking, exposure to the alcohol content increases their chances of drinking at dangerous levels . Despite EU regulations prohibiting media advertising of HFSS and alcohol-related content to children, pitchside promotional appearances during active play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup totaled more than 2 .5 hrs for HFSS brands and around 1.5 hrs for alcohol brands. Given the potential influence of this exposure on food choices and alcohol consumption among children and young adults, it is important that current regulations include televised sporting events within their remit to prevent young people from being exposed to such content. In France, the “Loi Evin”, otherwise known as the Evin law, largely controls the marketing of alcohol and prohibits alcohol advertising. However, Big Alcohol continues to break the law or tries to circumvent it despite legal repercussions . It is also imperative that global advertising strategies that guarantee benefits to sponsors of sporting events without jeopardizing the health and well-being of the population are developed for the future.
Our findings support studies calling for comprehensive regulation of prime time food (and drink) advertising accessible to children. As in our study, Kelly et al. recommend that the regulation of children’s television advertising should focus on the type of programs where the advertisements are shown, the type of product, the target audience, the time of day and the subject of the advertisements . At the same time, regulators should also consider focusing on adding sponsorship and sport to the scope of comprehensive regulation. Current self-regulatory marketing codes targeting alcohol and food are ineffective because most ignore sports sponsorship.
The cross-sectional nature of our study means that we are unable to estimate the effect of documented exposure on HFSS or alcohol consumption in our study population. However, there is evidence from elsewhere that exposure to such images through other media increases alcohol and HFSS consumption. . We only coded a sample of 13 of the 48 matches in the entire FIFA World Cup. However, we have no reason to suspect that the other groups and games would have been different, given our finding of similarity in alcohol appearances in games featuring countries with different controls on advertising. for alcohol.
The 13 games generated approximately 6.7 billion HFSS brand gross impressions and 3.7 billion brand alcohol gross impressions to UK viewers. Our estimate of raw and per capita impressions in this study assumes that viewers watched the entire broadcast of matches selected for coding and analysis, when in fact many may have watched only parts of the matches. The calculation of gross and per capita impressions to measure population exposure has certain implications. The alcohol industry frequently cites raw impressions as a more appropriate way to measure alcohol advertising . However, the disparity in population size results in more impressions per person for young people and less per person for adults. Additionally, we have also only coded a small proportion of the matches featured in the 2018 World Cup (21% of matches), indicating that exposure resulting from full competition is likely to be significantly higher. . Additionally, the study is unable to capture the impressions of viewers who watched selected matches online, from the stadiums or of viewers of other matches played throughout the tournament. For this reason, the figures we have provided are likely to underestimate the actual exposure. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that 44.5 million people watched its FIFA World Cup coverage on TV while a further 49.2 million people watched online via the BBC website. Sport. . England played in some of the matches coded in this study, which may partly explain the higher viewing figures for these matches, compared to matches involving other countries. The global audience for the FIFA World Cup has been estimated at 3.4 billion, almost half of the world’s population . This includes viewers at home (estimated at 160 million), those who watched the game online and those who watched it in public places such as bars, outdoor venues and pubs. . The UK exposure figures are therefore likely to represent only a very small proportion of the actual total global exposure.