Criticism for Health Partnership between Cadbury and the Football Premier League

Wednesday 25th January 2017

The English Premier League and major confectionary brand Cadbury have agreed a three year partnership deal in a move that has angered obesity and sugar campaigners.

The deal, scheduled to begin from the start of the 2017/18 Premier League Season in August, will see both companies partnering with existing community programme Health For Life, which encourages schoolchildren to pursue healthy life styles among 60,000 schoolchildren. This deal comes after Cadbury’s Sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The deal has been strongly criticised by health campaigners, who have claimed the sponsorship agreement is nothing more than a marketing ploy, despite claims to the contrary by both the Premier League and Cadbury.

Tam Fry, spokesman of the National Obesity Forum argued that the money would be considered well spent if kids were encouraged to exercise and kick footballs “to kingdom come” without eating any chocolate, and considered it dubious that the Premier League, one of the richest sporting leagues in the world would need to partner with Cadbury and therefore regards it as “little more than a marketing ploy”

Mr Fry further notes that the deal would only be welcomed by health campaigners if Cadbury produced a sugar-free product.

Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar, Jennifer Rosborough asserted that companies need to choose their partnerships more responsibly and argues that chocolate should not be associated with healthy living.

Cadbury have claimed that they are aware of their responsibility to address public health concerns and plan on “significant community activity” to help educate people on healthy eating, nutrition and exercise, arguing that the partnership will help Health For Life make a “bigger impact” on the health of schoolchildren.

In a statement, Premier League managing director Richard Masters similarly explores plans to “jointly grow and enhance” the Health For Life project, as part of the League’s community work, noting that the common focus between Cadbury and the Premier League is regarding “moments of joy”.

This criticism comes following a similarly criticised sponsorship of London’s Olympic Games in 2012, which, along with regular Olympic sponsor McDonalds, was accused of promoting unhealthy lifestyles and products, and undermining health campaigns as both companies marketed food products that contribute towards obesity and type-2 diabetes, along with the myriad of health complications that stems from this.

This is Cadbury’s first sponsorship campaign in football, although not the first for a chocolate company. Mars Food UK, makers of the Mars, Snickers, Milky Way and Galaxy brands of chocolate bar have a long running partnership deal with the Football Association, scheduled to run until July 2018.

The Premier League sponsorship appears to be a continuation of this dissonance between the stated intent of their brand to promote healthy lifestyles with the unstated implication that Cadbury’s chocolate bars are a part of it, despite the arguments from health campaigners that an inherently sugar-filled and calorie-laden snack like a chocolate bar would be an occasional treat at most in a healthy lifestyle.