Sponsorship of Europe’s soccer clubs could come under threat from new EU legislation aimed at reducing under-age drinking.

Ad industry lobbyists are concerned that catch-all self-regulatory guidelines published last month could prevent marketers from targeting younger audiences who are legally entitled to buy and consume alcohol. The draft urges an enforced code of conduct for alcohol advertising – including a ban on youthful models, allusions to drug culture and the linking of alcohol with anti-social behaviour.

In trying to stop teenagers becoming addicted to alcohol, advertisers and agencies fear that the EU may place legal restrictions on drinks advertising even though it is directed at young people above the legal drinking age. "We're taking this very seriously," says Lionel Stanbrook, deputy director general of Britain's Advertising Association, which is preparing a position paper on the issue for the UK Department of Culture Media and Sport.

Stanbrook cites as an example a theoretical ban on brewers’ sponsorship of soccer clubs: "Audiences for football have always been young and are getting younger. Our worry is that this is part of a gradualist approach by those seeking a ban on alcohol advertising."

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)