Oulman Zerhouni, Laurent Bégue and Kerry O'Brien


Zerhouni, O., Bégue, L., and O'Brien, K. (2019) 'How Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship Works: Effects through Indirect Measures'. Drug and Alcohol Review

Drug and Alcohol Review
Release date

How Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship Works: Effects through Indirect Measures

Research Article


Introduction and Aims

The study tested whether incidental exposure to alcohol marketing messages in sporting events:

  1. influenced automatic evaluation of brands and alcohol in general; and
  2. if these processes occur through deliberative (conscious) or non-conscious processes.

Design and Methods

Using an experimental design, participants watched a sport event containing:

  1. a prototypical alcohol brand;
  2. a brand unrelated to alcohol; or
  3. a non-prototypical alcohol brand.

One hundred and nine participants were randomly assigned to either a cognitively depleting task to impair motivation for effortful conscious processing before watching the excerpt, or a control task. We measured indirect (implicit) and direct (explicit) attitudes toward alcohol and brands, and self-report measures assessing affective response toward the event, involvement in processing the message and identifications toward the playing teams.


We found a positive main effect of incidental exposure to alcohol brands on indirect measures of attitudes toward alcohol as well as the specific brand. No effect of cognitive fatigue on indirect measure toward brands and alcohol was observed.

Discussion and Conclusions

Incidental exposure to alcohol marketing messages appear to impact indirect measures of attitudes toward the brand and alcohol in general, and seems to rely on non-conscious automatic processes.

The implications of the study

What we showed is that alcohol advertising and sponsorship not only send a message directly encouraging people to consume alcohol, but tends to implicitly and/or unconsciously associate a product, like beer, within a specific context of going to the football or watching a sports match on television,” said the study’s co-author, Professor Kerry O’Brien, from Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, as per Eureka Alert.

Study lead Dr Oulmann Zerhouni reports that exposing people to an alcohol brand, and more strongly to a mainstream alcohol brand, leads to more positive attitudes towards alcohol more generally.

Our results suggest that alcohol advertising and sponsorship exposure may change attitudes in an automatic fashion, because it doesn’t require an individual to cognitively process the advertising stimuli,” said Dr. Oulmann Zerhouni, as per Eureka Alert.

The researchers believe as sports fans are repeatedly exposed to alcohol advertising and sponsorship when watching sport, this likely has a long-term effect on their alcohol use. Researchers call for better understanding of such long-term effects and addressing them to curb the alcohol harm. Specially in the view of the vast number of children exposed to alcohol marketing through sports programmes.

Source Website: Eureka Alert