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Daily Debate: Should Alcohol Advertising Be Banned?

Daily Debate: Should Alcohol Advertising Be Banned?

Ever since 2000, Tobacco advertising in Formula One started to decrease due to the blanket ban in Europe and other parts of the world. Williams were the first team to move away from receiving funds from cigarette companies and were quickly followed by others, notably McLaren. This marked a significant change in the sport, as tobacco has been synonymously linked with Formula One for many decades. However, while smoking is bad for you and therefore the advertising of its products banned, little has been said or done regarding alcohol sponsorship.

Perhaps the advertising of alcohol in Formula One isn’t quite so prominent as tobacco was, but teams still carry logos for popular brands on the cars, overalls, websites etc… with McLaren having replaced West with Johnnie Walker, Force India advertising owner Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher company and Ferrari having enjoyed a long term relationship with Bacardi. Alcohol doesn’t end with the teams though, with Johnnie Walker placing giant billboards around the circuits and up until recently, Fosters sponsoring the British and Australian Grands Prix.

While the governments around the world are generally aware that alcohol can be very damaging to people, similarly to smoking perhaps, the advertising laws regarding these companies isn’t so strict. It should also be noted that at least two alcohol companies have used Formula One as a vehicle to promote considerate and moderate drinking of their products, with Johnnie Walker hiring former world champion Mika Hakkinen to be their Global Responsible Drinking Ambassador for their Join The Pact campaign and Michael Schumacher involving himself in Bacardi’s Champions Drink Responsibly campaign.

However, alcohol is still consumed at races, the cars carry logos of popular brands and with the sport being centred on driving, isn’t it time alcohol received a similar ban as tobacco did? Or should the sport, in this time of economic downturn, be welcoming the involvement of these companies in sponsoring teams and races?

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Images © Diageo/Join The Pact.

Oliver White

3 comments

  • My opinion on alcohol advertising is that it has both advantages and disadvantages. If abused, it can lead to some very dangerous activities (especially when combined with cars), but moderate drinking has been found to have small health benefits. Phone-driving has been proven to be more dangerous in terms of concentration loss than drink-driving (but causes fewer deaths at the moment because the drink-driving culture is more deeply entrenched in culture than phone-driving) but mobile phones are sufficiently beneficial when used correctly that nobody seriously questions their presence on F1 cars.

    However, entrenching the link between alcohol and driving is definitely problematic, which is why kudos should go to Johnnie Walker and Bacardi for the campaigns you mentioned in the original post. These campaigns help explain to people that both alcohol and driving can be good things but not when the former is influencing the latter!

  • I can see how advertising alcohol can have some benefits but the British government has begun a campaign to keep children/teenagers of alcohol and F1 is becoming more popular among children/teenagers ad you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the clash.

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