The Heineken sponsorship of Formula 1 was met with applause and the big party over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend was praised by most of the press who attended as a stand-out event. The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) doesn’t care about that or any parties or how Heineken is going to wake F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone up to digital media. No, they wrote a scathing letter to FIA president Jean Todt.
According to AUTOSPORT, Eurocare’s secretary general Mariann Skar wrote Todt and said:
“Alcohol marketing has a powerful effect on society, in particular on young people.
“F1 is close to becoming more an event for granting the global exposure of alcohol brands than a sporting event.
“It is … worrying that F1 is now bringing the link between alcohol brands and motorsport even closer together.”
When tobacco advertising was banned by the EU, it sucked massive sponsor dollars out of Formula 1 and many believed the tech sector would fill this gap being that this is, after all, a high tech racing series. That didn’t happen at a level to replace tobacco money. Slowly, alcohol became more pervasive in its sponsorship of teams and now the entire sport manifest in the Heineken deal. Skar even offered some metrics regarding her concern:
‘If you drive never drink’ campaign, has simply exacerbated a problem she is trying to eradicate.
“F1 should ask themselves if they want to be a motorsport or an alcohol brand event?” she wrote.
“When monitoring F1 in Monaco Grand Prix 2015, we found 11 references to alcohol brands per minute, averaging one reference every five seconds.
“How will it be when Heineken comes in as main sponsor in addition to the others?
“If both the sport and the drinks producers want to be seen as responsible industries, they should stop this deal and move away from alcohol sponsorship in F1.”
Certainly there are those who feel promoting something that has been shown to be abused and harmful or fatal is not a good idea. There are those who feel that society at large cannot avoid the bigger issue of personal accountability and responsibility. Depending on which side of that argument you land, you may find Skar’s letter a welcome effort to stop alcohol from being promoted by F! or you may find this yet another attack on F1 or its sponsors.
Skar feels the FIA are on the hook for this as well saying:
“We would like to request that you take this issue seriously and consider moving away from these sponsorship agreements, as you did with tobacco sponsorship.
“FIA is not without responsibilities, being the governing body of F1 and also being one of the shareholders in the sport.”
I would like to see the metrics on how many millions of lives were saved or how many billions in healthcare costs were saved by banning tobacco advertising in F1. With all of those presumed billions saved, where did that money go and what was it used for? What is the net positive effect of the tobacco ban on F1 advertising?
If you amass metrics to show exposure to a brand and suggest correlation equals causation in the aspect of tobacco or now alcohol, then where is the post-mortem net positive metrics that show these actions are, indeed, the correct decision beyond just feeling better. We banned tobacco and alcohol advertising in the US some time ago but not beer, just the liquor. We have since changed that and now Jack Daniels can advertise along with other beer and alcohol companies. I haven’t seen the data behind the lift of the ban but it is an interesting conversation nonetheless. We still don’t advertise tobacco.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT