So Long Carling Weekender

Beer Brands Under Pressure Over Music Sponsorship

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Over on the other side of the pond, there has been increasing speculation that UK brewers are buckling to the anti-alcohol advertising lobby. Prime example: Coors Brewers' number-one-selling UK Brand Carling has pulled out of two of its major sponsorships, the Leeds and Reading Rock festivals, which they've been involved in for 10 years.

Coors/Carling denies it's ditching music as a core part of its strategy and that it would instead be focusing its involvement on live venue sponsorship -- the brand has a series of Carling Academy venues across the country, where there is arguably more control over underage drinking than at festivals.

However, the pressure on brewers is increasing; some government advisers are calling for a total ban on alcohol advertising at music events. As part of a major crackdown on binge drinking among young people, The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has lodged a series of proposals which aim to outlaw alcohol promotion on TV, the internet and in most cinemas. The body also wants to slap a ban on brewers' sponsorship of music festivals and concerts.

All over the world, from New Zealand to Thailand, there are similar calls to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorships, with critics citing the influence that these partnerships have on youth and underage binge drinking. But at the same time an increasing number of big events are drawing in big money from beer company sponsors. Carling aside, in Scotland Tennent's sponsors T in the Park, Heineken backs Benicassim in Spain and Oxegen in Ireland and Miller sponsors South by South West in Texas.

Hard to say where the suds will settle, but stay tuned, because, along with the big music fest trend, the big alcohol sponsorship backlash may be poised to land on American shores soon. What happens in Europe hardly ever stays there.