With sports becoming more and more commercialized, sponsorships have taken over professional sports. In this paper, Alcohol and Tobacco sponsorships will be the issue of this paper. Sports sponsorship has become an important marketing tool for advertiser’s because of the flexibility, broad reach, and high level of brand or corporate exposure that it affords, (Krapp, 49). Yet some sponsors have created an uproar with in the society, these are namely alcohol and tobacco products. These two make up about half of the sponsorship in professional sports today. Sports sponsorship has been around since the creation of professional sport in the late nineteenth century. It is not a new topic, but it has become some what of a controversial issue in the past twenty years. With Tobacco companies being under strong scrutiny from the government and society, their sponsorship of sporting events have also been questioned about their effect on the youth of America.
Sponsorships are useful as a supplement to regular advertising; however, they are especially valuable as an advertising substitute in situations where advertising may be banned or limited. Sports sponsorship provides opportunities to reach audiences in four distinct ways: (1)during the prepromotion advertising and publicity for the event, (2)at the event site during the event itself, (3)during the live or delayed broadcast of the event, and (4)during postevent news reporting of the event’s results. Each time the sporting event is mentioned or shown in the media, there is an opportunity for the event sponsor to gain exposure, (Krapp, 50). Alcohol and Tobacco companies take great advantage of this. They sponsor sporting events or pay to have their advertisements in certain sports arenas and stadiums for just this reason. Multiple chances to have their brand or corporate name shown on television or by the people attending the sporting event. Yet by having these advertisements in the arenas or stadiums, the alcohol or tobacco company does not have to put up warnings with their advertisement like they have to do on their products and advertisements in publications. Significant brand exposure may be gained through event publicity, prepromotion, on-site signage, and telecast of the event, but unlike conventional advertising, there is no requirement for including health warnings or moderation messages, (Locke, 224).
Several beer companies are heavily involved in sport sponsorship, actually owning or sponsoring Major League Baseball teams. For example, Anheuser-Busch owns the St. Louis Cardinals, Coors has an ownership position with the Colorado Rockies, and Canadian brewer Labatt owns the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1990, Gloede reported that Anheuser-Busch sponsored 23 of 24 domestic Major League Baseball teams, 18 of 24 National Football League teams, 22 of 27 National Basketball Association teams, and 13 of 14 domestic National Hockey League teams. Also with such major international events such as the 1998 World Cup of Soccer in France and recently with the sponsorship of the Woman’s National Basketball Association through Bud Light, (Krapp, 51). This is a incredible statistic, in that, beer companies sponsor more than half of all professional sports teams in America. A company that brews alcohol sponsors the majority of sports in this country when alcohol has nothing to do with the playing or participating in any of those sports.
Alcohol sponsorship is looked at in a better light than tobacco sponsorship, which is the more controversial topic. For both of them, sports media is a key vehicle for presenting and promoting their products in connection with activities defined by most people as healthy. This enables them to present product images that they hope will counteract other negatives in the culture, (Coakley, 381). This is why you will see more alcohol advertisements than sports drink advertisements. The alcohol and tobacco companies want to be incorporated with sports since they are considered good for a person, and they are not great for a person. It makes them good by association with the sports that they sponsor.
Cigarette ads were banned from television in the United States in 1971 and in many other countries including Canada and Australia. A key benefit of sports sponsorship is that it provides a legal loophole for circumventing the ad ban, (Krapp, 51). Tobacco products have also been sponsors of sporting event’s for more than a century. With brands of chewing tobacco sponsoring the majority of baseball teams and making baseball cards with their brand name on the card since professional baseball sprung up in America. Tobacco companies have recently taken a lot of fire on their advertising to the youth of America. A study in Australia found that the brands that were most popular with children, aged 12 to 14, are the same brands that sponsor the state’s major league football competition,(Krapp, 52).
My opinion on this topic is that the money that both alcohol and tobacco advertising pulls in for each of the professional sports is good for those sports. On the other hand, is that money worth the corruption of the youth of America by the constant bombardment of alcohol and tobacco advertising at the ballpark. The signage should be limited or discrete at the arena or stadium, if any. With society’s bias towards tobacco companies in general, I would not be against the all out ban of tobacco advertising at sporting events or stadiums. They have no place at sporting events where health and fitness are the keys to success, not what kind of cigarette you smoke.
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