Thursday 3 June 2021

Consumers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of alcohol companies continuing to support sports teams. A poll undertaken by The AM Show on TV3 yesterday shows nearly three-quarters (72%) of New Zealanders answered a firm ‘no’ to the Question of the Day –  Should alcohol companies be banned from sponsoring sports teams?’. 

“This result aligns with our own research showing positive public support for sports sponsorship,” said NZ Alcohol Beverages Council Executive Director Bridget MacDonald.

“Our results from 2020 show around two-thirds of New Zealanders are comfortable with current levels of alcohol sponsorship and advertising: 51% of Kiwis think the level of industry sponsorship of sport is about right, and 11% want more. In addition, 62% of Kiwis say current alcohol advertising levels are acceptable, and 4% think there could be more. [i]

“Some commentators fail to understand the stringent rules and regulations that already exist for advertising and sponsorship, and also confuse marketing activities with promoting more drinking, which is simply not the case. The fact is advertising is about choosing one product over another – not drinking more overall,” says Bridget.

Bridget also says it is a common claim that advertising and sponsorship somehow promote harmful drinking – something not supported by the evidence.

“Harmful drinking is falling and we’re all drinking 25% less than we did in the 70s and 80s. Globally, virtually all research has found that alcohol marketing, including sports sponsorship or social media advertising, has no or very modest effects on overall alcohol consumption. The Foundation for Advertising Research has shown that while advertising spending has increased in New Zealand over the past decade, we’ve also seen alcohol consumption decreasing steadily. [see graph 1]  Momentum for change toward moderation is gaining through positive trends such as a general decline in hazardous drinking, fewer younger people drinking, consumption decreasing, and we consume less alcohol per capita than the OECD average. Kiwis are choosing more no- and low-alcohol drinks to suit their lifestyle or social situation,” Bridget says.  [ii] [iii] [iv]

“We all have a part to play in reducing alcohol-related harm, and we need to take a pragmatic approach. Targeted education programmes are sensible solutions to helping educate young people on alcohol harm and encouraging adults to make better decisions around drinking. Targeted support initiatives are needed for those who drink harmfully. Globally, the industry has been proactively working on global partnership initiatives with online platforms to help ensure that young people are not exposed to online alcohol advertising,” says Bridget. 


Need more information?

 Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.

A good rule of thumb is ‘Go no, low or slow’. It’s okay to choose no or low alcohol drinks. If you choose to drink, pace yourself and enjoy your drink slowly.

Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice to reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week,

Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week,

AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

Need help?

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit

Research notes

[i] NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, New Zealander’s attitudes to alcohol research, December 2020, poll of 1000 New Zealanders undertaken by Curia Market Research

New Zealanders are quite comfortable with levels of advertising and sponsorship. Over past three years fewer people think there is too much and more think there is not enough.

Do you think the level of alcohol sponsorship and support of sport in New Zealand is about right, too much, or not enough?

62% think it’s about right or could be more

  • 51% (+1% on 2019) think the level of alcohol sponsorship of sport is about right, 
  • 11% think there should be more 
  • 25% (-1% on 2019) think it is too much


About right %

Too much %

Not enough %

Unsure %
















Do you think the amount of alcohol advertising in New Zealand is broadly acceptable, too high, or not enough?

66% think it is acceptable or could be more 

  • 62% (+6% on 2019) say the current level of alcohol advertising is acceptable.
  • 4% think there should be more
  • 28% (nc compared to 2019) say it is too high


About right %

Too much %

Not enough %

Unsure %
















[ii]  Graphs 1 and 2 below illustrate there is no correlation between alcohol advertising and consumption.

Graph 1. NZ Annual Liquor Advertising Spend in 2013 dollars with per Capita Consumption aged15 +


[iii] Decreasing alcohol consumption: StatsNZ Infoshare, Alcohol available for consumption to December 2020 (published 25 February 2021), Alcohol available for consumption has been trending downward for a number of years. Data shows alcohol available for consumption was 8.719 litres per head of population (15 years and older) in December 2020 and 9.607 litres in 2010, resulting in a 9.2% decrease (see graph 3 below). There has been a 15.4% decrease since 1990 when it was 10.316 litres, and a 22.7% decrease since 1986 when the data was first collected where there was 11.282  litres per head of population (15 years and older) in December 2020. Note: The per head of population (15 years and older) is the measure used by the OECD.

Graph 3. Litres of Alcohol Per Head of Population in New Zealand  (Annual-December, aged 15 years and over) (published February 2021) 

Source: Stats NZ Infoshare (February 2021)

Graph 4. Litres of Alcohol Per Head of Population in New Zealand (Annual-December 1986-2020, 15 years and over) Source: Stats NZ Infoshare (25 February 2021)

[iv]  OECD Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older. The OECD average consumption is 8.9 litres/capita (aged 15 and over). New Zealand is at 8.8 litres/capita. See graph 3 below. Source: OECD Health Statistics, 2019. New Zealand figures as at 2018.

Graph 5. Recorded alcohol consumption among adults aged 15+, 2007 and 2017 (or nearest year) Source: OECD Health Statistics, 2019. New Zealand figures as at 2018.