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The Super Rugby team has, however, agreed to remove from its Facebook page images showing children with Highlanders players with Speight’s branding present, as a result of the complaint.
Speight’s became the naming rights and jersey sponsor of the Highlanders this season, and the brewery’s name and distinctive three-star logo are in the centre of the playing strip and on advertising around the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
That raised the ire of lobby group Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Nicki Jackson, who complained to the authority that the sponsorship was socially irresponsible and promoted alcohol to minors.
She said the size and placement of the Speight’s logo on the Speight’s Highlanders team kit featured in a manner was "not at all" subordinate, the visual portrayal of the Speight’s brand name and logo at home ground Forsyth Barr Stadium was not brief as required under advertising and alcohol promotion guideline, and Highlanders players wearing Speight’s branded clothing at many promotional events aimed at young fans was also bad, as having professional athletes as heroes and role models for children was a positive thing and they should not be a medium for alcohol advertisements or prominent alcohol sponsorship advertisements.
The Complaints Board did not uphold three other aspects of the complaint about the sponsorship advertisements.
It said the Speight's logo on the team jersey was less than the 15% coverage of the jersey specified in the alcohol code in the context of the overall sponsorship rules.
Also, within the context of the entire environment viewed by audiences at the stadium, the field advertising was brief and subordinate.
The Board said the two Facebook posts of programme content were not alcohol sponsorship advertising and the use of Highlanders jersey in the videos in the posts was not in breach of the Codes for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol.