New proposals to restrict advertising and sponsorship will decrease the volume and value of cultural sponsorship by drinks companies, putting these partnerships and local cultural events around the country in jeopardy, according to the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).
Commenting on the impact of the proposals, ABFI director Patricia Callan said, “The drinks industry provides almost €8.5 million in sponsorship to over 50 arts and cultural events around the country, which is essential to their viability and sustainability...The reality is the punitive new advertising restrictions proposed in the Public Health Alcohol Bill would effectively mean a ban on sponsorship by decreasing the volume and value of sponsorship partnerships for drinks companies. The severity of the content restrictions means that images of conviviality, such as a scene in an Irish pub, images of a person consuming alcohol or, indeed, images of people, will be banned.”
She added, “Advertising is a crucial part of the sponsorship package and brands 'activate' sponsorship through advertisements. Typically, a multiple of 3-5 times the value of the original sponsorship is spent activating a sponsorship through advertising. If advertising a sponsorship becomes problematic or restricted, then the value of the original sponsorship agreement, for both the sponsor and the event, becomes significantly devalued."
Callan went on to point out that among the events made possible by sponsorship are such high profile annual festivals as the Galway Arts Festival and the Cork Jazz Festival, both of have become landmark cultural events in Europe, attracting tens of thousands of attendees every year and generating considerable tourism revenue as well as employment opportunities and infrastructural developments in their respective locales.
Callan asserted that although "The Government has invested significantly in Creative Ireland, a five-year initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy", "the unintended consequences of the Public Health Alcohol Bill will only serve to undermine this commitment by jeopardising the partnerships that make cultural events possible." She believes that "A much more workable solution is to place the existing codes on a statutory footing, with significant penalties for breaches. This could be implemented within a much shorter short timeframe with a regulatory authority already in place to police the system”.