The summer of cricket is upon us. Once again, our long, hot days are filled with the background sounds of pedestal fans whirring, crickets and cicadas chirping, and Smith and Warner hitting sixes across family televisions everywhere.
But there’s a wicked assault on the innocence of this nation-wide and age-old nostalgia by a new player’s attempts to infiltrate our psyches and have us believe that cricket and beer – quite literally – have always gone hand-in-hand.
Lions’ beer brand XXXX has gone into overdrive this summer with its resurrection of cartoon mascot, ‘Mr Fourex’, and campaigns and lurid XXXX-branded merchandise declaring that “anything else just isn’t cricket”.
Not long ago we’d celebrated as a nation Carlton United Breweries’ renunciation of its partnership with Cricket Australia hoping that perhaps the pair had seen the writing on the wall and finally conceded that alcohol sponsorship had no place in the game.
Before we could draw a breath, XXXX stepped up to the crease – but we remained optimistic that at the very least, we seemed to be bidding farewell to the days when a beer brand got more coverage than the match itself.
Instead, it seems that rather than adopting a permanent subdued approach, XXXX was merely waiting for the dust to settle before unleashing all-out warfare on the senses with a truly inescapable presence.
This summer, kids everywhere are being slammed with the garish XXXX GOLD brand every time the ball hits the boundary, with every wicket taken, every replay, and during every ad break.
And with some games starting as early as 10am, you can be certain that kids are watching.
XXXX’s visibility to children isn’t by accident. The industry’s own documents reveal that alcohol brands use market research data on underage kids as young as 15 years old to guide campaign development, target their products and advertising to attract new drinkers, and encourage people to drink early and drink often.1
An onslaught of appearances from a grinning cartoon, Mr Fourex, is a sinister reinforcement of this claim of deliberate marketing to minors.
This absolute entrenchment of a beer brand into the game is dangerous. This normalisation, association and exposure to alcohol marketing increases the amount kids will drink and the likelihood of them taking up grog from an earlier age.
All while alcohol holds the accolade for being the major contributor to the three leading causes of death in adolescents – unintentional injury, homicide and suicide.
So, while we’re looking forward to another sensational summer of cricket, so long as XXXX continues to spin its brand while kids are watching, one thing’s for certain:
It just isn’t cricket.
FARE’s End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign is working to phase out alcohol sponsorship of professional sports.
Please make your voice heard and join the campaign today.
1 Hastings, G (2009). “They’ll drink bucket loads of the stuff”: an analysis of internal alcohol industry advertising documents The Alcohol Education and Research Council.