Families watching the 2023 State of Origin are bombarded with marketing of harmful products like alcohol, gambling and unhealthy foods, which cause significant ill health and social harm in Australia.
We reviewed the sponsors of the NSW team, the Queensland team and the Origin series and found that one in four sponsorships were from alcohol, gambling and unhealthy food companies.
The three-game series, that kicked off on 31 May 2023 with the final game on 12 July 2023, is watched by millions as one of the biggest events in the National Rugby League (NRL) calendar.
With so many people watching, these events become one large advertisement for harmful products.
Our analysis found:
- 16 alcohol, gambling and unhealthy food sponsorships, including branding on the players and field, and marketing activities including social media and limited-edition products, such as branded beer cans
- eleven of the 16 sponsors identified were running ads on Facebook and Instagram at the time of the first game of the State of Origin
- just over a third (35.5%) of all unique Facebook and Instagram advertisements featured sporting content, including specific reference to the State of Origin.
Children see this marketing and it has harmful impacts. For example, the younger that children are exposed the alcohol marketing, the more likely they are to start drinking early and to drink at higher levels.
This also normalises the association between these harmful products and sporting events.