Daily Archives: 15/11/2014

FIA president under fire for failure to ban alcohol sponsorship in Formula One

Sorry for squeezing another post in this week but I saw this headline and felt compelled to include it quickly as it follows up on a blog post I wrote at the end of October about the backing of a responsible driving campaign by a booze brand which you can read here.

My highlights from the Telegraph article:

FIA position themselves as ambassadors of road safety but this has incensed the road safety lobby and anti-alcohol bodies, given F1’s association with alcohol brands

It has been a bumper year for alcohol advertising in Formula One, with the return of Martini to Williams in a deal worth around £10 million, and the announcement of Johnnie Walker as the official whisky supplier of the championship. McLaren also have Johnnie Walker on the side of their car, which is thought to bring £15 million a year. Smirnoff signed an agreement with Force India in May.

Jean Todt and the FIA have consistently positioned themselves as ambassadors of road safety, with the former Ferrari team principal having one eye on a possible job at the United Nations. But this has incensed the road safety lobby and anti-alcohol bodies, given F1’s association with alcohol brands.

In a move reminiscent of the public campaign which was fought before tobacco sponsorship was banned in the 2000s, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) has written an open letter to Todt, asking for a meeting and “rapid action” from the Frenchman.

Mariann Skar, the secretary general of the body, wrote: “When considering the continued destructive prevalence of drink-driving, permitting the mixed messages presented in alcohol sponsorship of Formula One seems ever more inappropriate given the total viewing audience of 500 million.

The alliance of 57 public health bodies across 25 European countries added: “[We are] deeply concerned of the heavy marketing exercise seen in Formula 1 and is therefore requesting an urgent change.”

The letter goes on: “Allowing alcohol sponsorship in Formula One seems to contradict many official guidelines for the marketing of alcohol. It runs against the EU Directive which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving.

“Moreover, the current association between alcohol and driving does not seem to fall in the category of ‘the widespread promotion of responsible drinking messages’, part of the mission supported by the alcohol industry itself.”

France has already banned alcohol sponsorship, while a leaked Labour Party document suggested they will look to do the same if they win power next May.

Sometimes I write a blog post here and feel like a ranting loony as my view seems so at odds with how news is presented.  It is so heartening to read that I am not some fringe nutter but that many others share the same view and are trying to do something about it! 🙂

Maybe change is afoot …….