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Obesity & Fast Food/Non-Alcoholic Sponsorship of Sporting Events: A Moral Dilemma. Dr. Karen Danylchuk The University of Western Ontario London, Canada. Challenges and Dilemmas Facing Sport Managers Regarding Partnerships. Challenges lead to dilemmas Dilemmas = “perplexing situations”

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Obesity fast food non alcoholic sponsorship of sporting events a moral dilemma l.jpg

Obesity & Fast Food/Non-Alcoholic Sponsorship of Sporting Events: A Moral Dilemma

Dr. Karen Danylchuk

The University of Western Ontario

London, Canada


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Challenges and Dilemmas Facing Sport Managers Regarding Partnerships

  • Challenges lead to dilemmas

  • Dilemmas = “perplexing situations”

  • Dilemmas are often “ethical” (what is right?)


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Dilemmas Partnerships

  • Who should our organizations partner with in their day-to-day operations?

  • Should there be any restrictions?

  • Who should sponsor our sporting events?

  • Who should make these decisions?


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Current Status of Sport Industry Partnerships

  • Sport has become a giant industry

  • Increases in interest & opportunities for participation & spectatorship for a diversity of groups has lead to corresponding increase in goods & services

  • Recreation & leisure sports the largest segment with university sport a large sub-segment



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The “Corporatization” of the University Partnerships

  • Universities form external partnerships with the corporate community

  • Commercial involvement = reality & often a necessity


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Examples of Commercial Involvement Partnerships

  • Donors get their names on buildings, faculties, institutes, etc.

  • Research support (e.g, pharmaceutical companies)



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Who is an appropriate partner? Partnerships

  • Increased reliance on corporate support


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The Case of Tobacco & Alcohol Partnerships

  • Conflicting debate

  • Alcohol is more socially acceptable


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Opponents Partnerships

  • Hypocritical to use a productthat is detrimental to one’s health to promote an activity that exemplifies a healthy & fit lifestyle

  • Concern with exposing young people


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Proponents Partnerships

  • Sport event organizers believe banning these types of sponsors will lead to the loss of their event

  • Tobacco & alcohol companies want exposure, brand awareness, sales


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Current Status Partnerships

  • Legislation in some countries to regulate the involvement of tobacco & alcohol sponsors

  • Canada, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, France …


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Food & non-alcoholic beverage sponsorship & its link to obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?


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Status of Obesity Worldwide obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • #1 health issue in many countries (WHO, 2006)

  • Epidemic, pandemic, “globesity”, “diabesity”

  • Heart disease, diabetes …


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State Comparisons (CDC’s BRFSS, 2007) obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Colorado lowest (18.7%)

  • New Hampshire 17th (24.4%)

  • Mississippi highest (32%)


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Obesity Trends Among Canadian Adults 1985-1998 obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?(Can. Health Promotion Surveys)


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(Canadian Community Health Survey, 2004) obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Obese Canadian adult numbers have doubled since the late 1970s and adolescent numbers have tripled

  • Rates are similar in boys and girls

  • For 2-5 yr olds, rates are unchanged from 1978/79

  • Canadians have slightly lower obesity rates than U.S.

  • 1 in 4 Canadian children is obese.

  • 20% adults in cities & 30% in rural areas are obese


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International Obesity Task Force (2006) obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Parents will have higher life expectancy than their children

  • Prevalence of obesity increased in all countries studied

  • Percentages of overweight children expected to increase in poorer countries

  • Infiltration of Western fast food outlets & habits

  • Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Egypt comparable to industrialized countries

  • By 2010, 1 in 5 children will be overweight in China

  • India has a problem despite 45% malnutrition amongst children (World Bank, 2005)

  • Japan & Korea lowest


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Conclusion obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • obesity is EVERYWHERE, even in developing countries

  • children are exposed to world’s marketing power, primarily through advertising

  • emphasize prevention rather than treatment


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Measures to Combat Obesity obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Public awareness & education

  • School cafeterias

  • Physical education

  • Tax breaks for parents

  • Labelling

  • Pricing structures

  • Advertising legislation

  • Health policies & strategies


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The Premise obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • If type of product used as a sponsor influences consumers, then having sponsors linked to less healthy food & drink may contribute to obesity


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Is this morally & ethically responsible? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?Is this socially responsible?


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Corporate Social Responsibility obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • GlobeScan research done for Hewlett-Packard Canada Co. in Mar. 2007

  • 92% people surveyed said they are more likely to purchase products from companies that are socially & environmentally responsible

  • 91% people prefer to work for the same

  • Bottom line is companies must embrace CSR & make it part of their brand message


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Purpose of this Study obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Garner consumer opinion toward food (healthy & non-healthy choice) & beverage (non-alcoholic) sponsorship of sporting events -Tobacco & alcohol also under study

  • Determine the viewpoints according to behavioral (smoking, drinking, exercise habits) & demographic (gender, age, educational background) variables


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Research Questions obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Are food & beverage products appropriate sponsors for sporting events?

  • Is there any distinction between the types of food & beverage products (i.e., healthy vs non-healthy) in regard to sponsorship?

  • Is food & beverage viewed any differently than tobacco & alcohol as sponsors?

  • Should government legislation control the involvement of these sponsors?


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Two Phases of the Study obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Phase 1 = quantitative approach using a written survey

  • Phase 2 = qualitative approach using focus groups


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Phase 1 – Written Survey obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Written survey (N = 253)

  • University students

  • Fitness club members

  • Older adults


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Comparison of Sponsors obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Attitudes towards food/non-alcoholic beverages more favourable than alcohol & tobacco

  • Most appropriate: water, sport drinks, energy bars, cereal, juice, tea/coffee

  • Least appropriate: tobacco, wine, liquor, fast food, beer


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Best Sponsors? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Sporting goods (57%)

  • Sport drinks & water (52%)

  • Healthier type foods (24%)

  • Financial institutions (19%)


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Worst Sponsors? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Tobacco (60%)

  • Liquor (29%)

  • Fast food (23%)


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Government Legislation? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Not in favour


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Suitability of Sponsors obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Varying opinions

  • Harmful health effects of tobacco & alcohol

  • Negative impact on athletes

  • Consumer’s “choice”


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Phase 2 – Focus Groups obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • 2 focus groups (N = 12)

  • students, professors, coaches, athlete, personal trainer, hospital administrator, physicians, event coordinator, marketing coordinator, sponsor


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Decision on Type of Sponsor obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Potential $ of sponsor

  • “fit” or “match”

  • Company’s corporate image

  • Company’s beliefs, business ethics, values


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Suitability of a Sponsor obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Sport connection? Any “match”?

  • Suitability to the audience

  • Suitability to the athlete (i.e., healthy connection grounded in good research)

  • Company’s corporate image

  • Evaluate degree of “harm”


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Inappropriate Sponsors obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Soft drink, tobacco, & alcohol sponsors inappropriate for children

  • Those who send a negative message through their product (e.g., poor treatment of employees)


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Appropriate Sponsors obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Those promoting “health”, such as governing agencies, health foods, health clubs

  • Others not necessarily sport-related, but with positive reputations (e.g., transportation, technology)


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Government Legislation? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Mixed opinions

  • Government should begin with product placement legislation (e.g., movies, TV)

  • Research needs to be clearer

  • Don’t eliminate pro-choice

  • Something must be done to address the obesity issue (e.g., tax on junk food)


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Limitations of this Study obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Sample was more highly educated & more conscious of their lifestyle habits (i.e., non-smokers, physically active) than the general population – therefore, not representative of sport fans/spectators

  • Canadian citizens


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Implications for Sponsee/Event Marketer obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Type & fit are important considerations

  • Assess the degree of harm

  • A challenge to run events without tobacco, alcohol, & food/non-alcoholic beverages BUT should consider CSR in selection of sponsors


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Implications for Sponsor obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Leverage their association with the sponsee & promote how their products/services support healthy initiatives reflected in sport

  • Already being done by many companies through the addition of healthy choices

  • More socially responsible advertising


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Implications for Consumer obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Must take responsibility in learning more about diet & nutrition, & making healthier choices

  • Challenge in light of economy


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Where does one draw the line? obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Banks, cars, & cellphones

  • Is there ANY appropriate partner/sponsor fit????


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Concluding Reflections obesity: Is it any worse than tobacco or alcohol?

  • Economic challenges + corporatization = ethical & social responsibility dilemmas regarding partners

  • Realize the pros & cons of the options

  • Make the “best” decision for the organization

  • Tobacco & the environment have been dealt with successfully so why not other products?