Rugby League Rugby League World Cup Sponsorship

KFC Sponsorship of 2017 Rugby League World Cup Leaves a Bad Taste For Experts

May 30, 2017

By Christian Radnedge

The announcement of fast-food chain KFC as the latest sponsor for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup has been met with widespread condemnation from public health experts.

This week it was revealed that KFC will be the official quick-service restaurant at the tournament which is to be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papa New Guinea between October and December this year.

The partnership also includes a number of marketing rights, such as on-pitch advertising and branding on the video referee board during try referrals.

However, the deal has not gone down well with public health officials who claim the sponsorship is negative step in the fight against obesity.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the advertising would be particularly harmful to children.

“[KFC] is doing it because they want to build up a life-long addiction to their food,” she said.

“Rugby League as a game is largely supported by Maori and Pacific Islanders and these children are the children suffering most already.”

Her comments were backed by obesity expert Dr Robyn Toomath, who argued that fast food chains were jumping on the positive atmosphere surrounding big sporting events.

She said: “When you advertise something that is inherently bad with something that is recognised as inherently good, you get the ‘halo effect’.

“The bad thing gets elevated into an arena where people think it is a terrific thing.”

Ministry of Health figures show that New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate in the OECD with one in three people older than 15 obese, and one in 10 children.

However, New Zealand’s Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman defended the deal in the wake of the criticism and insisted that this type of sponsorship was needed.

“You’ve got to look at do the benefits outweigh the potential costs,” Coleman 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.”

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup will be the 15th edition of the tournament, with 14 teams competing for the top prize – last won by Australia in 2013.

Rugby League Rugby League World Cup Sponsorship