To be a properly cultured member of society, it is imperative that you at least tolerate, if not love sport. Whether it be polo or soccer, baseball or boxing, it should be on the agenda of everyone to have a passing knowledge of the primaryentertainment genre in the world. You can’t go to a party and overhear a discussion about baseball, and decide to participate by commenting that the Brooklyn Dodgers are your favorite team. It is entirely possible that the crowd will give you an approving nod, if they take it to mean that you’re a lover of the classics (afterall, what member of the sophisticated elite is not?), but it is more likely that they will take it to mean that you haven’t paid attention to sports in 50 years (the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958). Therefore, I will assume it’s obvious that you understand this, and have also noticed that there is an integral link between sports and alcohol…
Photographed to left is Steven Gerrard, the Captain for Liverpool Football Club, one of the giants of European soccer. Notice that Liverpool is sponsored by Carlsberg, the 4th largest brewing company in the world, employing 45,000 people. They are headquartered in Denmark, and have spent £7 million as the main sponsor of the English team.
In addition to that, Carlsberg has also just recently signed a £50 million deal to be the main sponsor of the English Football Association, until 2014. In this deal, Carlsberg secures itself as the official beer of English soccer, and the exclusive poured beer at some of the biggest stadiums in the country, including the 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium, in London.
Other noteable alcohol sponsorships around the world are Chang Beer (Everton F.C., England); Smirnoff (Manchester United, England); Jose Cuervo (Mexican soccer); Heineken (National Basketball Association, Kenyan Rugby); Budweiser (NBA, United States soccer, NASCAR); Anheuser-Busch (Major League Baseball, National Football League); Miller Lite (MLB); Coors (NFL); Stolichnaya (Russian Soccer); Jack Daniels (NASCAR); and so many more, it would likely be impossible to catalogue all of them in a single article. These sponsorships cost the companies hundreds of millions of dollars, and they aim to make this back through advertisement that reaches thousands, if not millions of people, per game or event. For example, half time at an average major sporting event at Wembley Stadium (remember, Carlsberg is the exclusive beer), serves about 40,000 pints. At £3.50 a pint, that equates to $231,600 at HALF TIME alone. It is probably safe to assume that the number is doubled through the entire length of a major 90 minute soccer game.
All that said, we don’t know exactly how much Carlsberg gets from each pint that is sold, but it is easy to see how they can recoup a large investment rather quickly, just through the intimate relationship between alcohol and sport. Quite honestly, £3.50 a pint actually seems rather cheap to me. I have been to numerous events at the Atlanta Georgia Dome, where a 12oz cup of Bud Lite routinely costs up to $6 (not that I would partake in that. I frequent the Margarita stands, myself).
A major fear of medical professionals and socially responsible adults everywhere, is that those too young to drink are being influenced by the ‘in your face’ advertising of some of the alcohol companies, and this is promoting underage drinking, as well as binge drinking in adults. In fact, in a recent news headline here on Culture of Spirits, we are linked to Bloomberg Press, where the British Medical Association is calling for a ban on alcohol sponsorships in sports. According to Charles George, a recently resigned Chairman of the BMA’s Board of Science, alcohol related diseases such as cirrhosis have jumped nearly 100% in the past thirty years.
On the contrary, Keld Strudahl, Chief of Marketing for Carlsberg, says that this is not the companies’ faults, “We think we have a sensible attitude towards our sports sponsorships as we, for example, don’t attempt to mix youths into our advertising,”
In addition to that, David Poley, Chief Executive of Portman Group, says “The BMA is ignoring all the evidence that advertising causes brand switching, not harmful drinking,”
Regardless of exactly what the influence is on the general populace, everyone should always practice moderate consumption and socially responsibily behavior. I know that I plan to when I sit down here to watch the World Cup Qualifier game between the United States and Trinidad & Tobago, in half an hour.