Should beer companies end their NASCAR sponsorships as tobacco companies did?

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This question can be quite controversial. Beer companies have long been sponsors of NASCAR and drinking beer while watching the race is often part of the fun for many people. However, NASCAR races are often family events, and seeing beer companies logos plastered all over their favorite racers’ cars could lead children to find drinking that specific beer as exciting as watching the race. Tobacco companies took the right steps in ending their NASCAR sponsorships and that is something that beer companies should follow suit with.

Auto Races Popular Family Events

For years, children have been a huge part of the crowds at auto races and make up a significant portion of their television viewers. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 12 to 17-year-olds make around 11 percent of the total 12 plus population. However, they make up 14 percent of those who attend NASCAR auto races in 1996, and over 18 percent of those who attended sports car racing. Additionally, more than 25 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds, or over 100 million kids, watched auto racing on television. Also, 10 percent of NASCAR fans are aged 18 to 24 and 40 percent of fans have kids under 18. These statistics point to a large number of fans under the legal drinking age who are being exposed to alcohol at racing events. 

Since kids make up a significant portion of NASCAR fans, in 2004 NASCAR started targeting children through cartoons and other methods. AftermarketNews discussed how Nielsen Media Research (1999 to 2002) found that more than 58 percent of kids 7 to 11 years old are NASCAR fans. Also, the number of 12 to 17-year-old fans who watched  NASCAR has doubled since 1999. 

The Official NASCAR Released in 2018, stated that children attended NASCAR national series races and took over certain race events responsibilities that were usually reserved for adults. The event hosted children as honorary pit crew members, green-flag wavers, media reporters, and national anthem singers. NASCAR also provides free tickets for children under 12. The vice president, Pete Jung said that “NASCAR is a sport for the entire family and there’s no better way to celebrate the summer together than at a NASCAR race track.” He also stated, “Kids Drive NASCAR is all about the next generation of fans and creating a NASCAR experience for kids and their families that they’ll never forget.”

Additionally, NASCAR often holds race weekends which include live music, rides, contests, and racing-related merchandise sales. The racing-related merchandise often includes NASKids merchandise with toddler and youth apparel. With such an emphasis on targeting kids to the brand, they should be wary about being sponsored by alcohol, which is not made for children as it can lead to so many problems such as addiction. 

Why The Sponsor Matters

According to the Motor Racing Network (MRN), 51 percent of the NASCAR demographic feel as if buying a sponsor’s product enables them to contribute to the sport. This is an alarming number for the large number of children who are watching NASCAR. Children may also feel as though they need to buy beer to contribute to the sport or they may think that drinking is cool because it is associated with NASCAR. For children, this can be very confusing. They might start to associate NASCAR races with alcohol, which can be very dangerous as it can lead to alcohol abuse and addiction at an early age. 

NASCAR Does Not Need Beer Companies Sponsorships

Since NASCAR seems to be trying to target children to watch their races, they do not need beer companies to sponsor them. NASCAR has many non-alcohol related sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Geico, Xfinity, Chevrolet, Ford, GoodYear, M&M, Monster, Mobil1, Sunoco, SiriusXM, Yeti, Visa, and Toyota, just to name a few. Even though beer companies have been major sponsors of NASCAR for many years, the sport now attracts a lot more sponsors. With such a vast amount of sponsors, they do not need alcohol companies to sponsor them.  The RJR sports marketing executive once said, “There was a time when this sport was almost completely dependent on tobacco and beer companies. Today, the sport would continue whether we were there or not.”

Final Thoughts

If NASCAR was not seen as a family event then there would be no need for them to end their sponsorship with beer companies. However, since they are targeting children and families it seems only right to end their sponsorship with beer companies as they did with tobacco companies.

Children are exposed to so many bad influences nowadays, there is no need to expose them to alcohol at such an early age. Associating NASCAR with alcohol can be very confusing for a child, making them feel as though they need to engage in drinking alcohol to support their favorite racer or to even seem cool. If NASCAR really does want to target younger fans they should consider the consequences of being sponsored by beer companies and what that could mean for youth who watch.

Alcohol addiction can happen to anyone, at any age. For someone suffering from alcohol addiction, finding a high-quality inpatient alcohol rehab can help. Inpatient alcohol rehab clinics provide a person with all the support and medical treatment they need to overcome their addiction and get back to a healthy, alcohol-free lifestyle. 

Written by Stephanie Moloney

References

Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Options. Sunshine Behavioral Health. 

NASCAR celebrates youth, families in return of Kids Drive NASCAR. NASCAR.

NASCAR Fan Base Demographics. NASCAR. 

NASCAR Targets Younger Fans Through Cartoons. aftermarketNews. 

Official Partners. NASCAR. 

Racing to Addiction. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

Your Logo. Motor Racing Network: The Voice of NASCAR.

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