Alcohol Concern claimed a whopping 93% of respondents to its survey of 43 primary schools and academies in England and Scotland recognised Foster’s lager – ranking above McVitie’s, McCoy’s and Ben & Jerry’s.
It blamed alcohol companies’ sponsorship of football teams for children’s knowledge of beer brands. Half of children responding to the survey (47%) associated Carslberg beer with the English national football team and almost six in 10 boys associated Chang beer with Everton football club.
But, ISBA said evidence did not exist that children had a greater awareness of beer brands.
“Advertisers will be puzzled by the pressure group claims that their adverts have resulted in greater childhood awareness of beer and that, where it happens, that translates into a lifelong habit,” said ISBA’s director of public affairs Ian Twinn.
The industry was committed to adhering to strict rules surrounding alcohol consumption which has led to “steadily falling” alcohol consumption by children in the UK, claimed Twinn.
“Alcohol is not aimed at children, nor can children purchase it or consume it in licensed premises,” he said.
“Where there is evidence of a problem, business and our regulators have demonstrated time and again their active commitment to take action, whether that is in specific localities or nationally.”
Children who used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had a greater recall of alcohol brands and were more likely to have consumed alcohol, Alcohol Concern claimed.
- 47% of children associate Carlsberg beer with the English national football team: Carlsberg is the ‘official beer’ sponsor of the England team
- Almost six in 10 boys associate Chang beer with Everton football club: the club shirt sponsor (47% overall)
- Four in five (79%) children recognised the Foster’s characters Brad and Dan from the TV commercial.
- In Scotland almost half of children (47%) and 60% of boys correctly associated Carling beer with the Scottish national football team: Carling sponsored the Scottish Football Association until 2014.
Source: Alcohol Concern
Tom Smith, head of policy at the pressure group, claimed its research showed just how many children were exposed to alcohol marketing, with a bigger impact on those with an interest in sport.
“Children get bombarded with pro-drinking messages, when they turn on the TV, go to the cinema or walk down the road, and the existing codes are failing to protect them,” he said.
“We also know the public share our concerns which is why we need urgent action from the government to make sure tighter regulations on alcohol advertising are implemented.”
Professor Gerard Hastings, founder of the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, said alcohol marketing was clearly making an impression on children.
“Existing evidence shows that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more.
“As the Six Nations rugby kicks off with Guinness as its ‘official beer’, thousands of children across the UK will once again see alcohol associated with a major sporting event.”