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International football tournaments provide a high-profile platform for alcohol marketing. UEFA EURO 2016, however, was held in France where the national law governing alcohol advertising and sports sponsorship (the ‘Loi Évin’) was the most restrictive to apply in the tournament’s history. This study examined alcohol marketing references in the UEFA EURO 2016 football tournament through broadcasts in the UK, France, and Republic of Ireland.
Eighteen matches were selected, representing each of the tournament stages. All of these were recorded as broadcast in the UK. Ten of the 18 matches were recorded as broadcast in Ireland and eight were recorded as broadcast in France. A customised tool was used to identify and categorise all alcohol marketing references (e.g. location, duration, brand featured, and number of identical references). A reference was defined as any reference to an alcohol brand, lasting one second or more and included electronic and static pitch-side advertising, branded merchandise, television advertisements, sponsor lead-ins and branded packaging.
On average, there were more than 100 alcohol marketing references per broadcast in each country. The average number of alcohol marketing references per minute was 0.69 in French broadcasts, 0.65 in the UK broadcasts, and 0.59 in Irish broadcasts. Most references appeared during the match, where the footage was the same in all three countries. The most popular location and format was electronic pitch-side advertising. Almost all the marketing references were indirect (i.e. the brand was only identifiable from signifiers such as phrases from the brand slogan). There were limited differences between the three countries.
The frequency of references to alcohol marketing was high. Although the overall proportion of direct brand references was low, the high proportion of indirect references demonstrates that alcohol producers were able to circumvent the Loi Évin using ‘alibi marketing’. The limited differences between the three countries highlight the importance of a host nation’s regulations for international tournaments. Regulations to limit alcohol advertising need to be rigorously enforced and monitored, with clear lines of accountability explicitly outlined in law.
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