One in two children associate football teams and tournaments with the alcohol brands they are sponsored by, such as Carlsberg beer with the English national team, it adds.
Alcohol Concern and the partner associations behind the report are calling for a 9pm watershed on TV alcohol advertising, and a phased ban of alcohol sponsorship from professional sports, music, and cultural events.
Previous research suggests exposure to alcohol marketing leads children to start drinking at a younger age and increases the likelihood they will drink.
Foster’s prompts greater recall than McVitie’s, McCoy’s, or Ben and Jerry’s.
More than nine in 10 children (93%) correctly identified the brand name Foster’s as an alcoholic product, with brand recognition higher than McVitie’s biscuits, McCoy’s crisps, and Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream.
An image of the characters ‘Brad and Dan,’ from the Foster’s TV ad, was associated with alcohol by 77%. In contrast, recall for Coca-Cola’s ‘Bobby the Dog’ TV ad was 53%.
Children who use social media had greater recall of alcohol brands and were more likely to have drunk alcohol, added the report.
Half of children (47%) associated official sponsor Carlsberg with the English national football team. Children who watched TV were more than twice as likely to connect the two.
In Scotland, 60% of boys associated Carling with the Scottish team.
“The study provides new evidence that many children are familiar with the link between alcohol brands and the sports teams and tournaments they sponsor,” the report says.
“Boys in particular are aware from a young age of the association between football and beer brands, created by sponsorship.
The report states:
* Brand recognition of Foster's among children ranks above McVitie's, McCoy's and Ben & Jerry's
* Children using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter remember alcohol brands better
* 47% of children in Scotland - and 60% of boys - associate Carling beer with the Scottish national football team
"The volume of marketing promoting positive associations between alcohol and sport is such that by adulthood the associations are likely to have become automatic, formed in the cognitive structures of their memory.”
The findings came from a sample of 837 children from 43 primary schools in England and Scotland, aged 10-11 years old.
Call to remove celebrities from alcohol ads
The UK alcohol industry spends £800m a year on marketing.
Tom Smith, head of policy, Alcohol Concern, said, “Children are bombarded with pro-drinking messages: when they turn on the TV, go to the cinema or walk down the road. The existing codes are failing to protect them.”
The report makes four recommendations:
- Alcohol advertising content should be restricted to promoting factual information (ie origin, composition, means of production). Lifestyle images of drinkers, celebrities, and drinking atmospheres should be removed.
- A 9pm watershed on TV alcohol advertising should be made.
- Alcohol advertising at cinemas should be banned on films without an 18 classification
- A phased ban on alcohol sponsorship of professional sports, music, cultural events, and branded merchandise should be introduced.
“Evidence concludes exposure to alcohol marketing reduces the age at which young people start to drink, increases the likelihood that thye will drink, and increases the amount of alcohol they will consume once they have started to drink,” the report says.
“Research has also shown the earlier people become aware of brands, the greater the likelihood they will use them throughout their lives.
"This suggests early alcohol brand recognition is advantageous to alcohol companies, as future consumers will choose their products over others as a result of pre-established brand loyalty.”
The survey, released today, was commissioned by Alcohol Concern, Alcohol Focus Scotland, Balance North East and Drink Wise North West. It was carried out by Cogent Research & Analysis during October-December 2014.