Aussies Looking To Send Booze Ads Down Under?

It’s a question for the ages, and the Australian government thinks that it may have the answer. Should all alcohol advertising and sponsorships be banned from sporting events? The stadium is, after all, where you take your kids for that special bonding experience that can only occur while watching large men who make a hundred times your salary. Should the kids also be subjected to signage that demands they drink Bud Light? Some in the government down under say no.

A preventative health task force organized by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called for not only a ban of alcohol-related advertising & sponsorships in stadiums, but also on the Internet and in youth magazines. No more XXXX beer ads? The wine & spirit companies and the owners of teams in Cricket Australia, the AFL, National Rugby League and Australian Rugby Union are, as you may imagine, not taking this well. In fact, AFL boss Andrew Demetriou says that such a ban could kill his league. I bow to your greatness, oh tasty booze. I had no idea you wielded such power.

In fact, leaders of the major sporting groups said that they could lose up to $300 million a year if such a ban were implemented:

“It would cripple football,” AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said.“Let’s talk about how we can raise awareness and educate them on what’s right and wrong about responsible drinking. Banning things doesn’t solve these problems.”Cricket Australia said it would seek further details from the Government after being assured last year such a ban was not on the table.

“The danger with a simplistic approach like ‘let’s ban alcohol sponsorship of sport’ is that all you do is significantly damage sport,” CA spokesman Peter Young said.

Mr. Young said alcohol sponsorship of sport was not the problem. “If you go to Kings Cross at 3 a.m. and look at the drunken kids staggering around, they are not staggering around because they have seen an ad during a sportscast,” he said.

And none of that takes into account what the alcohol companies stand to lose. The booze industry vs. the Australian government: That’s going to be a good, old-fashioned barroom brawl. In fact, potentially much more entertaining than cricket, in my opinion.

But offsetting the claims of a $300 million loss to sports leagues is the task force estimate that alcohol-realted illness costs the Australian government about $15 billion a year. I don’t know; atthe very least maybe this will cause Russell Crowe to sober up. That’s something.

Hmm. I wonder what stance the Australian hotel industry will take on this?