Public opinion towards ‘unhealthy’ sponsorship of sporting events in South Africa: An exploratory study

  • J Surujlal
  • M Dhurup
Keywords: Sponsorship, ethical, alcohol, fast foods, opinion, ‘unhealthy’.


Key public health concerns surrounding the marketing of tobacco, alcohol and fast-food products include misuse and poor nutrition. Sports sponsorship has frequently been used as one of the marketing tools by alcohol, tobacco and fast-food companies to penetrate a vulnerable market. The current study questions whether it is morally acceptable for sporting events to involve sponsors that promote products that are considered non-nutritional and those that are linked to ‘unhealthy’ practices. Hence, the purpose of the study was to elicit the perceptions of a diverse group of participants regarding the appropriateness of three different sport sponsors, namely, alcohol, fast food and soft-drink companies, and to determine whether respondents varied in their
perceptions of such sponsorships according to the demographics of gender, alcohol consumption, smoking, eating, and exercise habits. The secondary objective was to examine whether there were any significant differences among respondents’ exercise habits and their perceptions of
alcohol, fast foods and soft-drink companies as sponsors of sport events. A quantitative empirical design was used for the research. A structured questionnaire was administered by trained fieldworkers to university students, health and fitness club members, and older adults (n = 404).
Frequencies were used to report on the responses of the participants regarding the appropriateness of the different types of sponsors. In order to assess whether male and female respondents differed in their perceptions on whether beer, liquor, fast foods and food and snack
companies make appropriate sponsors for sport events, a non-parametric test was conducted. The results indicate that both gender groups do not vary in their perceptions on whether beer, liquor, fast foods and food and snack companies are appropriate sponsors for sport events. However, it is
of great concern that many sport events are associated with ‘unhealthy’ products which do not send relevant messages to consumers.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939