Campaign updates

Campaign updates

We’re pleased to see Australia dominating the 2017-2018 Ashes series against England, but we’re not impressed by the barrage of alcohol advertising and promotions the season has brought with it. With strong community support for a ban on alcohol advertising at sporting events, much more needs to be done to minimise the harmful impacts of alcohol advertising on children.


19 September 2017

We’re less than two weeks away from the football grand finals and the #BoozeFreeSport campaign is doubling down on its efforts to remove alcohol sponsorship from sport.

You can check out our exciting new campaign HQ here – a dedicated URL at

And we’re proud to announce the first of our campaign supporters. #BoozeFreeSport is now a campaign proudly supported and endorsed by the Public Health Association of Australia, McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, St Vincent’s Health Australia, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australian Health Promotion Association, and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

To kick-off the week, friend of the campaign, former ABC journalist and Walkley Award-winning journalist Di Martin speaks with David Hill. Just 22 years ago it was another toxic drug, tobacco, playing a starring role on our sporting landscape. And as former President of the North Sydney Bears (1989-1992) Hill was an outspoken critic of tobacco sponsorship.

We encourage you to watch the video. Hill is damning of our sporting codes and says,

“Sporting bodies have proved that faced with the choice between doing what is morally right, or taking the sack of money, they are most likely to take the sack of money”.

And that’s where you come in.

Because we can ill-afford to sit idly by and wait for the sporting codes to do the right thing.

So this week we’re calling on Australians to become a catalyst for change.

And our new BoozeFreeSport website makes that easy than ever.

We appreciate your support for our campaign to date. Many of you have already become a fan, or emailed your local MP.

Now we’d like you to tell the ministers responsible to act.

Tell Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, Greg Hunt MP and Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Catherine King MP, and Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland MP that you’re a BoozeFreeSport fan and demand action.

Contacting these members of Parliament will let them know that you care about this issue, and that you want them to address your concern. The more people they hear from, the more likely they are to act.

9 August 2017

Tooheys deal comes up short

I wish I had better news to share!

As reported yesterday, the New South Wales Blues have announced a deal with Japanese-owned beer company Lion worth a cool $4 million over four years.

We knew this deal was coming. Just not the finer details.

So just to recap, Lion are prepared to invest $1 million dollars a year to get their Tooheys brand onto the shorts of a team of perennial losers that have lost eleven of their past twelve series, for a measly three game series, that odds are, will likely once again end in defeat.

If ever there was a telling example of the pulling power of professional sport, and the value of aligning your brand with a high profile professional sporting team, then it is this deal.

For this is no crapshoot. Lion are not blindly betting the house on black, or in this case, blue.

No, this is a calculated move, with no down side for Lion. Win, or more likely, lose, Lion still come out ahead.

$4 million dollars is how much Lion is prepared to invest in winning new customers.

And they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Remember NSW and Tooheys successfully partnered up for 13 years from 1993.

Its sponsorship deals like this that make a liar out of Big Alcohol, and bring into sharp relief the concerns of the Booze Free Sport campaign.

Because we know that repeated exposure to alcohol promotion is associated with young people drinking more and from an earlier age.

And while we see young victims being needlessly harmed, the alcohol industry sees only their customers of tomorrow.

But we can do something about it, and you can help.

You have already shown you support this cause.

Now we ask you to help us reach a larger audience of concerned Australians.

Our research tells us that a majority of Australians care about this issue, but we need your help to reach out to them and invite them to lend their weight to our campaign.

12 July 2017

Help us win the short game!

With kick-off in the third and final State of Origin game for 2017 just hours away, it’s an opportune time to update you on the latest happenings in the #BoozeFreeSport campaign.

You know that removing alcohol sponsorship from Aussie sport is our campaign’s ultimate goal. But there’s other more easily attainable and important targets well within our reach today.

All successful campaigns began their life with a worthy idea and a few passionate individuals, and Booze Free Sport is no different.

Today we have more than 200 #BoozeFreeSport fans.

Here’s our challenge to you. We want to break the 400 barrier before the final whistle blows during tonight’s Origin game.

Invite a friend, family member or colleague to become a #BoozeFreeSport fan today and help us double our fan base.


Ask the doctor: Does alcohol sponsorship belong in sport?

#BoozeFreeSport recently caught up with Dr Sandro Demaio, co-host of the ABC television show Ask the Doctor, to talk about the issue of alcohol sponsorship in sport.


One step forward, two steps back

In our last update we brought you news of some recent confusing and contradictory NRL State of Origin sponsorship announcements made in the past couple of months

To recap, First, Carlton United Breweries walked away from its VB deal with the NSW Blues. Then Lion announced XXXX branding would no longer have naming rights or feature on the Queensland Maroons’ jersey next year.

But before we could celebrate, we witnessed the unexpected and unwanted revival of the Tooheys / Blues sponsorship.

After pulling its funding of the Wallabies rugby team, Lion has pounced on the opportunity for its brand Tooheys to re-appear on the Blues’ Origin jersey from next year.

This means that despite Lion withdrawing its XXXX jersey naming rights from the Maroons, it now looks set to darken State of Origin matches for the foreseeable future.

Lion’s return to the Blues is a disappointing yet important lesson that we cannot trust alcohol brands, some of the most powerful sponsors of Australian sport, to vacate this space and do what’s right and responsible.

While it’s impossible not to see Lion’s recent announcement as one step forward, and two steps backward in the quest for Booze Free Sport, we remain optimistic about the influence community-led campaigns can have in creating positive change, and thank you again for your continued support.

31 March 2017

It has been a big week in the Booze Free Sport campaign.

After 20 years, Carlton United Breweries (CUB) has ended its association with Cricket Australia. CUB walked away from its long-term VB relationship with Cricket Australia, reportedly following increased pressure from lobby groups and health professionals.

Booze Free Sport would love to claim some credit, but before we had time to celebrate, Cricket Australia wrapped its arms around another alcohol industry suitor – Lion, despite glaring scientific evidence that exposure to alcohol ads is harmful to our kids.

In a small win, the new partnership with Lion at least does not extend to any branding of player clothing.

That we can now look forward to a world where our cricket stars are no longer paraded as walking talking beer billboards is a step in the right direction.

But while its players may no longer be plastered in alcohol logos, Cricket Australia is still dancing with the devil, and it is the families and kids – the fans of this great game, who will suffer as a result.

Read more:

Drink Tank: Cricket Australia throw Aussie kids to the Lion

The Guardian: Cricket Australia has dropped the ball on alcohol sponsorship

To date, Cricket Australia’s defence of its toxic addiction to alcohol sponsorship has been weak.

Australian kids are bombarded by toxic alcohol ads, but judging by Cricket Australia’s response to our recent letter outlining FARE’s concerns, Chief Executive James Sutherland and the Board of Cricket Australia just don’t get it.

Its weak defence is to point to its efforts to advocate for a responsible attitude to alcohol.

Tellingly, those efforts are encapsulated in two very short paragraphs.

First Cricket Australia boasts of its partnership with Drinkwise. But Drinkwise is an alcohol industry front; a SAPRO (social aspects/public relations organisation), commonly established by industries that harm their customers. Established to deflect criticism, Drinkwise is in fact a puppet of the alcohol industry. Cricket Australia calls out its partnership with Drinkwise on its “You won’t miss a moment if you Drinkwise” campaign. Far from a public health message, the campaign is a cleverly disguised beer ad, as FARE has strongly argued in the past.

Cricket Australia also points to its association with Red Frogs organisation. Sorry, but no matter how worthy passing out free water and lollies on the ground may be, weighed against the barrage of alcohol advertisements that are seen by millions of children, and not just those at the game, these efforts represent a grain of sand on an entire beach of damage.

Most damming of all is Cricket Australia’s position that it would not even support an approach to the Federal Government for the establishment of an alcohol sponsorship replacement fund.

If ever there was proof needed that Cricket Australia was addicted to Big Alcohol, there it is.

You can read the Cricket Australia letter in full

January 2017

The summer sporting season is now in full swing and our Booze Free Sport campaign has its sights set on Cricket Australia.

Just look around at all the alcohol promotion and consider, what is Cricket Australia selling its millions of young fans during the Victoria Bitter One Day International series?

With Victoria Bitter as the official beer of the Australian Test team and Hardys as the official wine, alcohol will again feature more prominently than all the cricket stars from Australia or Pakistan, regardless of how well they perform with bat or ball.

The latest data shows that 6.2 million children are exposed to 11 million alcohol advertisements during cricket broadcasting.

Last season, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird voiced concerns that “… the captain of our cricket team sits there with a big VB on the middle [of his shirt]”.

Captain Steve Smith attempted to defend this suggesting, “we’re promoting the brand, not the consumption of alcohol”. However, all the evidence suggests that this is not the case.

When Australia celebrated its 2015 ICC World Cup win, the post-match discussion led by Shane Warne focused not on our team’s outstanding performance on the field, but how “thirsty” the players were and how they were going to celebrate with booze.

What kind of message does this alcohol-drenched culture send to the many impressionable young Australians who tune in to watch their sporting heroes play?

Children and families should be able to enjoy the game without being targeted by aggressive alcohol promotions.

That’s why we’re calling on team captain Steve Smith and Cricket Australia to rethink their unhealthy association with alcohol sponsors and replace these with more family friendly partnerships.

Want to support our work? Become a Booze Free Sport fan today.

Post-match: the journey to date

“Sadly, the game I love is awash with alcohol”
– Steve Ella, State of Origin 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.



Free beer fail

A State of Origin Blues promotion offering free beer has been slammed by former Blues player, Steve Ella, who is dismayed about the saturation of alcohol advertising in sport.

The Daily Telegraph, in partnership with Carlton United Breweries, Woolworths (BWS) and the National Rugby League (NRL) recently ran a promotion offering readers a free limited edition Victoria Bitter (VB) Blues can.

In a letter of complaint to NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg, Steve Ella, who has worked in the alcohol and other drug sector for 19 years, says he is concerned about the impact the promotion will have on impressionable young people and sport fans of all ages.

FARE also lodged a formal complaint with the NSW Department of Justice, stating the promotion breaches three separate sections of the NSW Liquor Act 2007.


A family affair. Steve Ella’s daughter Kristen inspired to add her voice to the campaign.

slider-ella“Last month my dad wrote to Todd Greenberg about his concerns over the level of alcohol advertising and sponsorship in the NRL. Now it’s my turn to do something about it.” – Kristen Ella

Ahead of Origin Game 2, Steve Ella’s daughter Kristen launched a petition calling for the NRL to phase out alcohol sponsorship. If you haven’t already done so, please sign and share her petition today.

Kristen says there is no question that alcohol is causing great harm to the families, children and communities that the NRL would have you believe it cares for. In articles on Mamamia, NITV and Drink Tank, Kristen says we must protect our kids and take alcohol out of the game.


NRL responds

It’s been a long wait, but to its credit the NRL responded on 27 July.

In the letter, Greenberg outlines the NRL’s investment in measures to encourage its players and participants to drink responsibly. While acknowledging those efforts, we think there’s a bigger issue. The NRL’s influence extends beyond the game itself, and its alcohol sponsorship agreements and promotional activities run counter to the NRL’s internal programs, sending the community an entirely different message.

There’s potentially some good news here. Greenberg says the NRL is currently reviewing how it allows alcohol partners to activate their sponsorship through advertising and media. Hopefully such a review would ensure we don’t see a repeat of this year’s Blues VB giveaway. Steve has now written back to Greenberg and requested that FARE be involved in the sponsorship review process.

It’s great to get a response from the NRL, but this doesn’t mean our campaign has come to an end. It’s important that we continue to show the NRL, and other professional sports, that Australia cares deeply about this issue and wants to see change.