Alcohol Advertising And Sponsorship In Formula One: A Dangerous Cocktail

This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed this and you can read my earlier post here but it’s come up again with a more robust study supporting it this time and is regarding the subject of Formula One racing and the sponsorship of it by the alcohol industry.

Remember these days?

It’s been replaced by this:


New report presents data on the extent of alcohol advertising during the 2014 Formula One (F1) Monaco Grand Prix: Formula One alcohol sponsorship exposes audience to alcohol brands every five seconds.

A new report which presents data on the extent of alcohol advertising during the 2014 Formula One (F1) Monaco Grand Prix together with an analysis of F1 teams’ sponsorship by the alcohol industry was issued today by the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), Institute of Alcohol Studies (UK) and Monash University (Australia). The findings from the report show that alcohol sponsorship of F1 provides a platform for an extremely high exposure of alcohol advertising to audiences.

The report shows that during the 2014 Monaco F1 race, the pinnacle event of F1 there were on average 11 references to alcohol brands per minute. In other words – the worldwide audience of a total 500 million people were exposed to an alcohol brand on average every five seconds for almost two hours.

Read the report “Alcohol Advertising And Sponsorship In Formula One: A Dangerous Cocktail

The authors of the report believe that the sponsorship practices they have researched clearly go against the spirit of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Furthermore, they also believe that the practices in F1 also go against even weaker voluntary codes set up by the alcohol industry itself. Eurocare has already raised the issue of alcohol sponsorship in F1 to Jean Todt, the President of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA), who then claimed no responsibility for the matter.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General in Eurocare says: “The amount of alcohol related exposure in F1 settings is extreme by anyone’s standards. There seems to be a lack of recognition within the F1 community about their responsibility when showing alcohol adverts every five seconds to an audience of 500 million viewers. We now urge the involved bodies in F1 to move away from alcohol sponsorship”.

Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, UK says: “Alcohol sponsorship of motorsport generates seriously mixed messages about drink driving and road safety, and contradicts the spirit of current EU rules on alcohol advertising. A common sense approach would be to stop alcohol companies from this risky business of sponsoring Formula 1.”

This is getting beyond farcical ‘the worldwide audience of a total 500 million people were exposed to an alcohol brand on average every five seconds for almost two hours’.  From a public health perspective we are being laughed at – and the powers that be are stand by and letting it happen …….

And the response of the FIA president, Jean Todt?

Jean Todt has revealed the FIA won’t be pushing for a ban on the advertising of alcohol in F1 as it is “not possible.”

According to the organisation, Formula 1 has “extremely high exposure of alcohol advertising to audiences” whether that be through Williams Martini, McLaren and Johnnie Walker or Force India with Smirnoff and Kingfisher.

Todt, though, has ruled out getting involved.  Speaking at the International Transport Forum in Germany, the FIA President said: “The use of advertising for alcohol is not linked to the FIA. It’s linked to each singular country.  I’m completely against, and advocating against, drinking and driving, but each country needs to make his own job.  You cannot ban alcohol, it is not possible, but you can educate people not to drink and drive.  So we are working very closely on that because we know it is an essential topic to be addressed.”Oh well that’s alright then isn’t it?  Your thoughts?

Edited to add 15th June 2016:

Reaction to F1 and its Heineken sponsorship deal

Today Eurocare issued an open letter addressed to Jean Todt, the President of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, with a Reaction to F1 and its Heineken sponsorship deal | Eurocare, Belgium

18th July 2016:

When does alcohol sponsorship of sport become sports sponsorship of alcohol?

Following Formula One’s sponsorship deal with Heineken, Eurocare vice-president Lauri Beekmann speculates over the real benefits to the funding of national and global sports for the major alcohol industry players | IAS Blog, UK

5 thoughts on “Alcohol Advertising And Sponsorship In Formula One: A Dangerous Cocktail

  1. Alcohol advertising at an auto racing event does seem out of place. It would be like having cigarette advertising at the Tour De France. “It’s been a long, hard ride. Reward yourself with the smooth, smooth taste of Marlboro.”

    On the other hand, sponsorships are supposed to cater to the tastes of the viewing audience. This is why Coors Light, and not Chateau St, Emilion, sponsors NASCAR.

    1. Thanks for chiming in SC. I do understand about catering to the tastes of the view audience – bit like Veuve Clicquot and Polo here 😉 Still don’t think it’s right to have booze sponsors around driving – completely mixed, no more than that – contradictory, message.

  2. It’s weird in general to have alcohol sponsoring a sporting event. It’s not like elite athletes actually drink, you know? It’s the obese fans who do all the drinking while watching fit people with clean diets do things the fans obviously can’t.

    Well, maybe except for rugby. I played for my college team and there was always a keg or a full cooler waiting on the sidelines for after the game… and if not on the sidelines, then definitely at the afterparty.

    1. Oh I don’t know – plenty of rugby players, football players and cricketer’s drink here! Case in point: Freddie Flintoff, the Ashes winning cricketer recently talked about giving up booze And everyone knows Gazza’s issues and the late George Best. Exceptions maybe, but being an elite athlete here does not preclude them from going mad on the bevies off the pitch.

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