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Cost, benefit in KFC sport sponsorship

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017 Karen Sweeney

Sports ranging from professional to grassroots might not happen in New Zealand without advertising from fast food companies like KFC, according to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

Obesity campaigners have called a sponsorship deal by KFC of the Rugby League World Cup a cynical campaign to make people addicted to the product.

But Dr Coleman, who is also sports minister, says it has to be considered whether the benefits outweight the costs.

KFC, which also sponsors Big Bash 20/20 Cricket in Australia, was named as the sponsor this week, with the deal to allow the chicken chain to advertise on screens during matches and interact with fans in the lead-up.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says KFC wants the prime advertising spot to "build up a life-long addiction to their food".

"Rugby League as a game is largely supported by Maori and Pacific Islanders and these children are the children suffering most already," she told RNZ.

But Mr Coleman said fast food companies advertising through sport sponsorship was not new, with McDonald's also supporting sports across New Zealand.

"You've got to look at do the benefits outweigh the potential costs," he said.

"The fact is a lot of sport in New Zealand, right down to the community level, wouldn't take place without this type of sponsorship."

Meanwhile research has found the majority of food ads on television are for unhealthy products and they target children.

The Public Health Nutrition journal analysed 10,000 advertisements over an eight day period and found almost one in five were food related.

"Over two thirds of the food ads contained foods that according to [World Health Organisation] standards should not be marketed to children, yet nearly 90 per cent of them were shown during children's peak viewing times," lead researcher Stefanie Vandevijvere said.

Four in 10 ads used children in advertising or targeted children on packaging, two in 10 used non-sport celebrities while almost the same number used cartoon characters.

Dr Coleman said there were standards for advertising to children but without seeing the research wouldn't be drawn on whether those should be changed.

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