Advertising of alcohol, in particular in conjunction with sponsorship of events undertaken by a wide ranging age bracket, such as sport, is always a hot topic. Heat has recently increased on this topic in New Zealand with recommendations put forward by the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship. The purpose of the forum was to consider whether further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship are needed to reduce alcohol-related harm. Earlier this year it made 14 recommendations to Government which have the potential to greatly reduce the amount of alcohol advertising and sponsorship which occurs.

These recommendations were made under three key headings:

1. Reducing youth exposure through sponsorship;

2. Reducing youth exposure through advertising;

3. Strengthening the current system of co-regulation.1

The Recommendations made to the Government were:

1. Ban alcohol sponsorship of all streamed and broadcast sports;

2. Ban alcohol sponsorship of sports (long-term);

3. Ban alcohol sponsorship (naming rights) at all venues;

4. Ban alcohol sponsorship of cultural and music events where 10% or more of participants and audiences are younger than 18;

5. Introduce a sponsorship replacement funding program;

6. Introduce a target program to reduce reliance on alcohol sponsorship funding;

7. Ban alcohol advertising during streamed and broadcast sporting events;

8. Ban alcohol advertising where 10% or more of the audience is younger than 18;

9. Further restrict the hours for alcohol advertising on broadcast media;

10. Continue to offset remaining alcohol advertising by funding positive messaging across all media;

11. Introduce additional restrictions on external advertising on licensed venues and outlets;

12. Establish an independent authority to monitor and initiate complaints about alcohol advertising and sponsorship;

13. Establish a mechanism to identify and act on serious or persistent breaches of advertising standards;

14. Establish a multi-stakeholder committee to periodically review and assess Advertising Standards Complaints Board decisions and pre-vetted advertising.2

Sporting organisations have been quick to raise concerns about these recommendations and the damaging effects which they could have on sport in New Zealand. Some of New Zealand's most well-known sporting organisations and competitions rely heavily on alcohol related sponsorship. Take, for example, the All Black's long-standing association with Steinlager, right through to local sports clubs. All rely heavily on alcohol-related funding in order to survive or even prosper. The effects are perhaps already being felt with DB Breweries pulling its naming rights sponsorship from the New Zealand tennis open with the managing director admitting that the potential tightening of the rules was a "consideration" (although not the primary reason for the decision).

Conversely those championing alcohol reform have seen it as a step in the right direction but there is still a belief that the recommendations could go further to reduce alcohol related harm.

The next step is for these recommendations to be considered by Government with the obvious possibility of new laws or regulations being passed. Comments from the Justice Minister Amy Adams appear to have dampened the likelihood of any reform occurring immediately. The Minister has acknowledged that more work needs to be done to consider the consequences of such reform. It appears that in the short term at least alcohol advertising and sponsorship will remain a major part of the sporting and cultural landscape in New Zealand.


1.Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship: Recommendations on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship at Appendix 1 at 3.

2.Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship: Recommendations on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship at Appendix 1.

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