More children recognise the beer brand Foster’s than certain makes of biscuit, crisps or ice-cream, a survey has found.
Children as young as 10 are “highly familiar” with drinks brands, the report by Alcohol Concern has revealed.
More than three quarters of the 837 primary school children in England and Scotland surveyed recognised characters from the Fosters television adverts, compared to just over half who recognised Bobby the Dog from the Coca-Cola ad.
The research recommends stricter controls on alcohol marketing regulations with campaigners Alcohol Concern, Balance North East, Drink Wise and Alcohol Focus Scotland calling for changes including a television watershed for advertising.
Campaigners also said alcohol advertising should be restricted to factual information in adult press, and to 18 certificate films in the cinema, while alcohol sponsorships should be phased out.
Half of children surveyed were found to associate their favourite football teams and sports tournaments with beer brands, while those who use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were found to be more likely to remember certain brands and to have tried alcohol themselves.
One in two children associated Carlsberg with the England football team, while almost half of children surveyed in Scotland were able to associate Carling beer with their national team.
Tom Smith, head of policy at Alcohol Concern, said: “This research shows just how many of our children are being exposed to alcohol marketing, with an even bigger impact being made on those children with an interest in sport.
“Children get bombarded with pro-drinking messages, when they turn on the TV, go to the cinema or walk down the road, and the existing codes are failing to protect them.
“We also know the public share our concerns which is why we need urgent action from the Government to make sure tighter regulations on alcohol advertising are implemented.”
Professor Gerard Hastings, founder of the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, said: “This research shows that alcohol marketing is clearly making an impression on our children.
“Existing evidence shows that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more.
“As the 6 Nations rugby kicks off with Guinness as its ‘official beer’, thousands of children across the UK will once again see alcohol associated with a major sporting event.”
Alcohol Health Alliance said separate research they carried out shows strong public support for better protection for children and young people from alcohol marketing, with more than half supporting restrictions on alcohol companies sponsoring sporting events.