An examination of how alcohol brands use sport to engage consumers on social media

Introduction and Aims. To examine how alcohol brands use sport in their communication activities on social media. Despite extensive research exploring alcohol advertising and sponsorship through sport, minimal attention has been given to digital platforms. Design and Methods. This study undertakes a qualitative content analysis to examine the social media activity of alcohol brands sponsoring the three largest spectator sports in Australia: Australian rules football, rugby league and cricket. Results. Four sport-related social media strategies are identified through which alcohol brands solicit interaction with consumers, often involving co-creation of content and social activation. These strategies act as ‘calls to action’ and through the association of sport and alcohol encourage consumers to engage in competition, collaboration, celebration and consumption. These strategies are further strengthened by communications which draw upon themes of identity and camaraderie to resonate with the consumer. Discussion and Conclusions. Sport-linked social media strategies utilised by alcohol brands extend beyond just promoting their product. They seek higher levels of engagement with the consumer to amplify and augment the connection between alcohol and the sport spectator experience. The discussion highlights the powerful combination of sport and social media as a mechanism by which these brands seek to interact with consumers and encourage them to both create and promote content to their social networks. These strategies allow alcohol brands to extend their marketing efforts in a manner which can elude alcohol codes and prove difficult for regulators to identify and control.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0