Major Distiller Opposes Partnering with NASCAR

Pernod Ricard USA Says it Will Leave Trade Group Over Dispute

September 27, 2006

WASHINGTON—A major distiller, Pernod Ricard USA, opposes mixing liquor promotion with auto racing, and may leave the Century Council trade group in protest. That principled position is winning praise from the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which has been calling on NASCAR and the liquor industry to sever their lucrative sponsorship ties.

“Marketing alcoholic beverages of any kind on race cars sends the wrong message about drinking and driving—especially to teenagers who are at highest risk of death or injury in drunk driving crashes,” wrote George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project, in a letter to Pernod Ricard head Alain Barbet. Hacker also urged the world’s second biggest distiller to consider withdrawing from another trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, whose code permits racing sponsorships.

According to a recent MarketWatch report, Pernod Ricard told the Century Council that the company “firmly believes that it is inappropriate for the distilled spirits industry to engage in sponsorship of motor sports,” and that the Century Council should cease its involvement with racing.

According to government data, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion per year. Alcohol-related crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and injure someone every two minutes. More than 2,200 teens between the ages of 15 and 20 die in alcohol-related traffic crashes each year.

CSPI recently called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to closely examine alcohol sponsorship relationships with NASCAR in the context of the agency’s upcoming review of the the industry’s self-regulation systems. Since 2005, liquor companies have joined beer companies as NASCAR sponsors—making the alcoholic beverage category the leading sponsor of the nation’s premier driving sport. NASCAR is the second most popular televised sport among 7-to-11 year-olds, behind NFL football.


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