Risky drinkers tackled by footy ads

2 minute read

Those game-time booze commercials are more than just annoying.

Not being a scientist, nor a doctor, it’s not often that your Back Page scribbler feels utterly and totally qualified to report on research findings for The Medical Republic.

So today is a bit of an outlier, because the topic at hand happens to be the relationship between alcohol advertising and watching footy on the telly – both subjects that your correspondent has more than a passing familiarity with.

We have boffins at Edith Cowan University to thank for investigating both the frequency of alcohol advertising during popular sports broadcasts in Australia and their possible impact on cravings and drinking intentions.

The study involved analysing booze commercials during nationally televised finals matches from the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League as well as an online experiment exposing 345 participants to a randomly selected alcohol advertisement and recording the self-reported effects of that marketing. 

Publishing in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia, the key findings are quite interesting.

Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers found the percentage of overall adverts that were alcohol related were quite low: 3.9% for the Aussie rules and just 1.85% for the rugby league.

What’s more, the online experiment showed these commercials had a minimal impact on the general population’s drinking intentions and cravings.

So far, so good.

The bad news is that for folks who were considered to be risky drinkers, the advertising had its desired effect of triggering a significant increase in alcohol cravings, particularly if the advert was for the participants’ tipple of choice.

Commenting on the research, lead author for the study Dr Ross Hollett said understanding the influence of alcohol advertisements during popular sports broadcasts was crucial for public health awareness.

“Our findings highlight the specific vulnerability of risky drinkers to alcohol advertisements, despite the overall low impact on the broader audience,” Dr Hollett said in a media release.

Dr Hollett called for targeted health messaging during sport broadcasts to address this at-risk group effectively and highlighted the need for nuanced public health strategies in the context of alcohol advertising.

Doesn’t seem to be too much to ask. And while we’re at it, any further restrictions of the seemingly still ubiquitous spruiking of gambling products during sporting fixtures would also be most welcome.

I’d drink to that!

Send intoxicating story tips at any time to penny@medicalrepublic.com.au.  

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