Merging sport and drinking cultures through social media

The sport-alcohol-social media triumvirate presents a significant emerging issue in the fight against alcohol-related harm. This report identifies and explores how alcohol brands are using social media to connect sport’s identity, culture and camaraderie with alcohol consumption. It also reveals the main strategies undertaken by alcohol companies to achieve interaction and social activation with consumers. Purpose While considerable research has explored the public health implications of traditional alcohol advertising and sponsorship in sport, less is known about how alcohol brands interact with consumers through social media. The aim of this research was to identify and evaluate the sport-linked social media strategies employed by alcohol brands engaged in sport sponsorship. These findings provide initial data to shape discussion around harm reduction as well as recommendations for future research in relation to understanding how these strategies influence consumer attitudes and behaviours. Method This study explored sport-linked alcohol communication appearing on the most frequently used social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. ‘Sport-linked alcohol communication’ was considered to be any marketing communication text which referenced a specific sport or sporting organisation in its message content, or any image depicting an alcohol-related product or brand in a sport context. The focus was primarily on the major alcohol brands sponsoring the Australian Football League (AFL), the National Rugby League (NRL), and Australian Cricket during the latter part of 2013 and throughout much of 2014. The study was conducted during the active seasons of each sport, paying particular attention to the associated marketing and promotional activity during key events such as finals. The unit of analysis comprised the content of the relevant social network sites and the coding units were individual posts and images. A content analysis was used to elicit themes and images from the online text. In total six beer brands, eight wine brands and three spirit brands were considered to be involved in sport sponsorship across the sports considered, although not all of these brands engaged in social media activities to leverage their association.

Categories

Keyword(s)

License

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0