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Sports Studies: Alcohol and advertising

Students require opportunities to develop positive attitudes and values and to learn about cause and effect as they investigate social and cultural issues in sports contexts.

Possible learning activities


Ask the students to recall and describe alcohol advertisements that they have seen on television. As they describe them, list on the whiteboard some of the themes that emerge.

Common themes noted in research link alcohol with:

  • acceptance by same-sex mates;
  • macho behaviour, strength, and courage;
  • altered states of mind;
  • pride in the place of the brand in New Zealand's history;
  • being natural, wholesome, or healthy;
  • sport and fitness;
  • New Zealand heroes.

The students identify the images and stereotypes that advertisers use to sell alcohol, analyse one specific alcohol advertisement in terms of the images and how they are used, and present their analysis to the class. In groups, the students discuss why these images are used to sell alcohol and identify ways in which they may influence young people's well-being.

How has advertising changed?

Ask the students to interview people who are older than forty-five about sports advertising and sponsorship. How was it different in the 1970s or the 1950s? The students ask for specific examples of how marketing and advertising has changed and engage in research to find copies of older advertisements. As a class or in small groups, the students discuss the following questions.

  • How has sports advertising and sponsorship changed in New Zealand in the last fifty years?
  • Why has it changed?
  • What are the implications of these changes for young people today?

Who benefits?

Ask the students to complete a T-chart showing who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged by alcohol sponsorship and advertising in today's world.

What now? Taking action

The students work in groups to develop a leaflet to raise their peers' awareness of the influence of media messages about alcohol and to encourage responsible attitudes towards alcohol consumption. They trial their leaflet with a group of their peers by conducting surveys of the group members' attitudes to alcohol consumption before and after they read and discuss the leaflet. The students go on to prepare poster-based presentations that set out the purpose and results of their actions (and include circulating copies of their leaflets). Each group will present their poster and keep it on display in the classroom. All the students in the class look at the poster display and discuss the implications of the surveys. As a class, they write a report, which could be submitted to the board of trustees and/or printed in the school newsletter or magazine.

Teachers' notes

  • Research indicates that alcohol advertisements often appeal to children and adolescents. "It is claimed that advertising has particular influences on the young, especially as to which brands or products categories are 'in' or 'cool'...It is therefore important to monitor what messages the media, and advertising in particular, are sending to young people about the consumption of alcohol" (Jones and Donovan, 2001).
  • Regardless of whether advertisements are specifically targeting young people, young people are exposed to these advertisements and, as a result, develop expectations about their own likely drinking behaviour in the future.
  • Sports sponsorship is one way in which alcohol companies circumvent the codes that are designed to prevent alcohol from becoming associated with images of successful sports people. Sports sponsorship by alcohol companies comprises a marketing mix in which sports events, sports teams, individual sports stars, sports clothing, and even sports toys are all connected to a particular brand of alcohol.