UK Campaigners slam junk food sports sponsorship

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th March 2010

Health campaigners have slammed the decision by sports associations to sign up companies and brands related to junk food as sponsors.

Mars Inc yesterday (9 March) announced it had signed a four-year sponsorship deal with the Scottish Football Association in a bid to encourage more adults to play football in Scotland.

football.jpg

The move follows a deal with Mars and the English FA last year and will include media partnerships with The Sun in Scotland and its existing relationship with radio station Talksport.

The Coca-Cola Co. is a sponsor of this year’s football World Cup in South Africa, while Cadbury has a tie-up with the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Richard Watts, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, told just-food that it “is not appropriate” for brands like Mars and Coke to be linked with sport.

“The danger is…the subliminal message given out that if you do lots of sport, it doesn’t matter how many Mars bars you eat or cans of Coke you drink. It’s fine as long as you run around,” Watt said. ”

“Given what we know about the enormous amounts of exercise it takes to actually run off relatively small amounts of calories, that assertion couldn’t be further from the truth. Sports people and companies looking for sponsorship should be very careful indeed about linking up with brands associated with junk food products.”

He added that the Scottish FA’s assertion that Mars, which makes brands including Twix, Snickers and Galaxy, was encouraging people to take exercise, is “nonsense”.

“I think that is utterly inadequate as a defence. What Mars should be doing to help people get fit is to not market unhealthy foods to kids, reformulate their products. There’s a whole range of things they could do with what they produce instead of trying to pair them somehow sponsoring football encourages people to do more exercise,” Watt said.

just-food is the world’s leading portal for the global pre-packaged food and retail industries. Its daily mix of breaking news, views, analysis and research serves over 100,000 food executives each month. http://www.just-food.com/