Straight from the Bundy bear’s mouth

Another day, another booze-filled ad campaign, this time courtesy of Bundaberg Rum.

Twelve months ago Diageo Australia inked a deal with the NRL, becoming the official spirit of the NRL, and the State of Origin, and grabbing the naming rights for Saturday fixtures – the Bundaberg Rum NRL Super Saturday.

In March 2017, Diageo launched its ‘Unmistakably Ours’ campaign with a new television commercial launched to coincide with the launch of the 2017 NRL season.

Now Bundaberg Rum have unveiled an extension to its brand campaign – ‘The Game that’s unmistakably ours’.

Billed as the untold stories celebrating everyday Australians and their contributions to the NRL – and described as a ‘four-part documentary series’, the videos are in fact, branded content produced by Fox Sport. Or in other words, a set of four alcohol ads disguised as entertainment, suggesting Bundaberg Rum is a pivotal part of Australian and sporting culture.

Each ad is a whopping five-minutes in length, served up to our kids watching the NRL on Foxtel.

And why is that a problem?

Fox Sports head of client solutions Belinda Dolman nails it when she says, “The series shows how Fox Sports can work with brands to deliver unique, innovative and engaging content to their audience. Nothing is more powerful than live sport for advertisers, and Fox League continues to raise the bar in broadcasting.”

We agree! That is precisely why we’re so concerned that Fox Sports has no regulations over alcohol advertising, and more broadly, that the alcohol industry exploits the advertising loophole on free-to-air television.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recognises that alcohol ads are harmful to children, which is why alcohol ads are banned before 8:30pm on free-to-air TV. Yet infuriatingly, this regulation is abandoned on free-to-air during sports broadcasts when it is most needed, and absent on pay television altogether. In fact the free-to-air exemption is now so broad (it applies on weekends and public holidays during sports broadcasts and on any day in the case of live sporting broadcasts) that it completely undermines the alcohol ban.

The data tells us that  kids watch TV when adults watch TV, and in the absence of strong regulation, the alcohol industry is allowed to reach a new and exceptionally vulnerable audience – children, or as industry sees it, their ‘customers of tomorrow’.

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Michael Thorn

Michael is the Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), and tweets from @MichaelTThorn.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Gerard Byrne Reply

    The infiltration of alcohol advertising in sport is both massive and insidious. With digital images being placed on playing fields, to logos and slogans on shirts/jerseys it seems that the only competition being broadcast is that between alcohol products and gambling products.

    Q: Who will in?
    A: Not the Australian community and certainly not our kids

    With regard to this quote from the Fox Sports head of client solutions “Nothing is more powerful than live sport for advertisers, and Fox League continues to raise the bar in broadcasting” with such a self acknowledged power, Fox should also exercise its corporate responsibility to the Australian community as it aggressively promotes the second most harmful drug in our society – alcohol.

    The role of advertising is two fold, to retain existing customer and to induct new ones, a large part of the next crop of new customers are the young people of Australia who are exposed to aggressive and seductive advertising campaigns.

    Where is advertising depicting positive, healthy lifestyle focused and community building adverts Fox?

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