Oh, the irony! Recent research indicates that 76 percent of sport organization sponsorships come from unhealthy food products with just over 54 percent coming from sugar-sweetened bevvy ads. While it seems a bit odd, considering athletes just may avoid these items when training for the games, it does sort of make some sense as most of us snack on junk food while cheering on our favorite sports team … right?
The study targeted the top ten sporting organizations most watched by kids two to 17 years of age and is based on numbers via the Nielsen ratings.
PepsiCo and Hershey’s were some of the companies mentioned within the research. The candy-making company chimed in the study noting that it firmly believes in standing behind organizations that allow their athletes to showcase talents and act as role models.
The response from Hershey’s further noted that sports are watched by various generations who understand that the products they sell are simply a treat. They went on to state that the company takes part in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a voluntary project where companies are committed to refrain from advertising their products directly to kids aged 12 and under.
PepsiCo also made a statement regarding the study, noting the company has a strong global commitment when it comes to responsibility around advertising to kids and has signed industry-led initiatives which are voluntary via some worldwide, region, and national pledged programs. This includes the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in the U.S., mentioned above.
Data was used from 2015 Nielsen TV ratings to find the top ten sports organizations most watched by younger viewers. The figures were then composed into a list of each org’s sponsors from information publicly available, then each of these sponsors were placed into food and beverage brand categories by a person on the team unaware around the purpose of the study. Sponsorship was defined as a partnership with names/logos appearing within the same commercial.
The team then dived into the nutritional information for sponsorship products shown and searched official nonalcoholic beverage and food companies’ websites for the first three months of 2016, where each product was evaluated via a system referred to as the Nutrient Profile model, to find out what products were deemed ‘unhealthy’.
In addition, CNN revealed that the team also reviewed and calculated the number of beverage and food sponsorship commercials uploaded via YouTube from 2006-2016. More than 195 million views on YouTube were linked with these ads during that time.
The study revealed that the National Food League had the highest number of bevvy and food sponsors, as well as the most numbers around younger viewership; The National Little League hit the third spot when it came to bevvy and food sponsors.
It’s important to note, there were some limitations to the study: the team didn’t calculate the sponsorship appearances that took place during games on the sidelights or by announcements. Additionally, the team did not find the percentage around youth viewership and YouTube.
The research study also did not look into whether or not these bevvy and food sponsorships influenced children when it came to their own food choices or diet. It was said that more research is needed for those numbers.