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Mar 8, 2011

Don't sell KFC, MacGill tells his cricketing mates

Ex-Test spinner Stuart MacGill is adamant sports should not accept money to promote food brands like KFC and McDonalds. "I don’t think you can have any of us advertising junk food to be honest," he tells Crikey.

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Former Test spinner Stuart MacGill is adamant sports and sports stars should not accept money to promote food brands like KFC and McDonald’s. “I don’t think you can have any of us advertising junk food to be honest,” he told Crikey.

MacGill, who retired from Test cricket in 2008 and has been making a career in commercial radio, is particularly concerned about Test cricketers’ endorsement of KFC, which is owned by the world’s largest fast-food company, Yum Brands.

For the last eight years, KFC has been a “gold partner” of Cricket Australia, spending up to $8 million a year on marketing and promotion linked to the sport. For this it gets TV ads, endorsements from the Australian team and Channel Nine commentators, a KFC Classic Catches competition and billboards at the games. KFC also gets naming rights to the Big Bash Twenty20 competition, televised by Fox Sports, and the title of Australian cricket’s official fast food restaurant. All up, it probably pays Cricket Australia between $1 million and $2 million a year.

“The problem for me is that KFC and Cricket Australia are hitting parents where they’re vulnerable,” said MacGill, who has two young children. “Parents are already under a lot of pressure from kids to buy this stuff and when you get the Australian cricket team endorsing it you just increase that pressure. It’s just wrong in so many ways.

“Cricket Australia and KFC would say they’re promoting a healthy lifestyle, but it’s absolute tripe.”

Just before he retired, MacGill refused Cricket Australia’s instruction to take part in a TV ad for KFC. “They had just accused me publicly of being unfit and told me I would have to lose weight if I wanted to play again. And I just hit the roof. I said: “you’re telling me I’m fat and you want me to do a KFC ad? Well, you’ve got to be crazy. I’m not going to do it.'”

Australia’s elite cricketers are required to do KFC ads for free as part of their contract with Cricket Australia, and MacGill had no right to refuse. But Cricket Australia did not force the issue. “They backed off pretty quickly,” he said. “They could see that the press might say something, and if the press didn’t I would.”

MacGill also has concerns about Milo’s junior cricket program, which has been running since 1993 and has introduced 5 million young Australians to the game: “I don’t think Milo would exist any more in Australia if it weren’t for Milo cricket. It’s been the greatest marketing exercise of all time.

“It’s not even called cricket, it’s ‘Milo in2cricket’. First day they turn up they get a bat, a bag, a hat and a shirt, which are all branded Milo, then they have to wear that every time they play. It’s just a brandathon. At least it makes my kids drink milk, but I don’t really want them drinking chocolate milk, and yet we’ve got Milo in our house.”

Rob de Castella, Australia’s former world-champion marathon runner, shares MacGill’s concerns: “I certainly have major problems with sports men and women and organisations taking money from fast food or junk food companies. I had a couple of offers to do ads for fast food companies when I was an athlete and I always turned them down because I had a moral objection.

“I’d say to anyone considering it: be very conscious of the effect your endorsement is going to have on the future lives of young Australians. And it’s not just the physical consequences of obesity, it’s the social and emotional consequences as well.

“Some sportspeople don’t care. Some are driven by agents, who want their fees and commissions, like any other business. But the individuals have got to recognise they’re putting their reputation alongside something that they may not really want to be associated with.”

MacGill said today’s top young cricketers don’t even think about what they’re being asked to do: “They just know they’ve got to turn up, do what they’re told and there’s going to be lots of media.”

KFC defends its use of cricket to sell its wares. “We’re proud of our sponsorship of cricket in Australia which, aside from promoting KFC, also funds a large number of community programs across the country to encourage children to play the game and be active,” a spokesperson said. “It is a positive initiative and we are delighted to be involved.”

It also defends its high-fat, high-energy meals, telling people to think of KFC as “something which should be enjoyed as an occasional treat and as part of a balanced diet that includes exercise”.

Something which you won’t find in a KFC ad. Or the fact its Tower Burger, advertised by fast bowler Doug Bollinger and cricket commentators Bill Lawry and Tony Greig this summer, has one-third of an adult’s daily energy needs, or almost a half if you add French fries.

According to NSW Cancer Council nutritionist Kathy Chapman: “KFC has no redeeming nutritional qualities, and is full of fat and kilojoules, and is the sort of food product that displaces more nutritious foods (like a home cooked dinner of chicken and vegetables). It’s the worst of all.”

just chew it

Paul Barry —

Paul Barry

Journalist, author and Media Watch host

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57 comments

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57 thoughts on “Don’t sell KFC, MacGill tells his cricketing mates

  1. RamaStar

    I’ll say this and hope that I don’t come across as smart a-se or disrespectful, but I’ll take in good faith that SCG is actually you Stuart MacGill 🙂

    I’ll also so that I’m not having , or was trying to have a go at you personally, or question or character. [If I wanted to, I’d fall back on my Victorian leanings and say Warnie was a better bowler! 🙂 ]

    I appreciate your point about fast food targeting kids. But I’ve seen the Warne chicken McBytes adds, and while it may target kids, I don’t think Macca’s went out to specifically target kids. They’re going for a broad audience with the Warne promotions. I think getting kids is a by-product of their advertising.
    On that same vein, I think the Wolfblass ad’s clearly targeted adults, but also I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some kids who were caught by the ad, and found it impressionable.

    Yes, fast food does target young kids, and that is bad, it’ll affect their health in the long term. But kids are they’re growth market. But Alcohol also targets kids in a way. All be it in their mid to late teens. They target youth (I’ll use the term youth as persons 16-22) with advertising in the hope they will become their customers and purchase their brand. And as I said, with increased rates of binge drinking at this youth age group, isn’t this type of marketing/advertising just a predatory and in the long term just as harmful to health?

    I’m not going to use you and Wolfblass as a text book case of this sort of youth marketing. I think the Wolfblass ad’s were more aimed at trying to get adults to switch to wine. But look at the talking Boon dolls with VB, the 4X ad’s and V8 Supercars.
    I think that this is an issue that is just as serious as the one being presented here, and should be highlighted. And yeah, as I said in first post, maybe just slightly hypocritical to say one is ok, but the other isn’t.

  2. rhwombat

    Stiofan: Keep backing up. Your first contribution to this thread on an aspect of the fat-promotion industry was to (1) claim that Crikey is pandering to an anti-multinational audience (you inserted the “nasty multinational” meme) and (2) attempt to smear both MacGill and de Castella as hypocrites. That Yum foods is the largest pusher of junk food on the planet, and is a multinational that does the same thing, in the same way, for the same reasons in markets everywhere, is entirely relevant to this piece of extra-corporate journalism. I suspect that’s why you felt you had to make the crack about dog-whistling. I was obviously wrong about Coke, though I notice that you don’t deny it. Actually, I suspect that you are a tool of the Ltd News stable, hence your sensitivity about standards of journalism (/irony).

    Finally, you clearly have no idea that we spend NO public health dollars on placebos, “alternative medicine” and “complimentary therapies” (we let people fund their own delusions, not the PBS). Useless treatments are not “part of the continuum” with “the obesity issue” (mustn’t say “fat” must we). We do spend more than $25 Billion (with a B) of our tax dollars each year on obesity-related disease, and it continues to rise. . It’s not ignorance which is the common factor, it’s an active scheme of subverting the message we at the bleeding edge of the health care system have been pushing for decades (fat kills), delivered by interdependent industries (including the commercial media) and their lobbyists intent on the fat bucks. That you attempt to obfuscate with false equivalence suggests to me that you are a corporate shill.

  3. Elan

    IOF: another who gets into a tizzy! Have you thought of having counselling for your anger issues?

    Which part of the complete bleedin’ absurdity of your own argument escapes you?

    All of it. You and your attack dogs have made no headway on the issue being discussed here. You don’t like that. You get angry.

    Calm yourself OAF. Your arteries will harden, both with your obvious diet, and with that anger.

    It is difficult to get low enough to reach your level, but I’ll have a go:

    A diet of fast food WILL damage health.
    A diet of alcohol will do the same.
    but
    Most of us…….MOST of us do not have a diet of alcohol. The diet of fast food is tempting though isn’t it? It’s cheap and tasty.
    I don’t know about you but when I’m hungry I prefer to eat, not drink.

    We recognise the abuse of alcohol (you certainly see it as a problem!), but we don’t recognise the consumption of fast food;-as abuse.

    Alcohol IS abused, but-BUT when enjoyed with your meal, with friends ‘alcohol’, a decent glass of wine is very enjoyable.

    To put it in the same category KFC in order to ‘score a point’,….. and you talk about absurd!!!!

    But you little sweeties had to come up with something didn’t you? What?? Are you franchisees?

    The vitamins and big business. Yep! A huge problem, people are giving up booze, and fast food, and just eating vitamins.

    And for the record IOF; I DO understand the point re hypocrisy, just as I understand the disingenuous mega hypocrisy of grouping alcohol and vitamins with the perniciously slimy grouping of fast food with a healthy lifestyle!

    Bleedin’ absurdity is the move to sanitise fast food=healthy lifestyle, by trying to throw your rubbery spanners into the argument.

    This topic has by no means reached its limit for me when stupidity thinks it wins the day.

    Over to you. I’m going to enjoy this!

  4. Elan

    Awwwww come on IOF!, we were just getting started..!

    (Mind you, folk who copy the reasoning of others can be a tad tedious).

    I’m ‘prepared’ to admit? Ach! you silly twisted boy!

    You put up much the same argument, so I’ll give much the same answer. (BTW: people who consume an abundance of KFC do not indeed kick heads in-they usually cannot raise their leg above their knee level).

    As for vitamins, come now, a balanced diet doth not need vitamins. A poor diet can benefit from vitamins. Oh yes it can! As a pragmatist I am happy that IF nothing else-a supp is taken. It’s better than nowt.

    We could go into another stream of argument of peeing out an excess of water solubles or liver damage with the fat solubles, but that is not the discussion here.

    Same as excess of booze.

    The issue is the influence of KFC/Macc/Hungry Jacks have over sport. That’s it.

    I know their dollars are valued by sporting clubs-and don’t they know it, and take full advantage of it!

    I’ll repeat;-if they had the slightest interest in investing in sport, they would donate, and expect nothing in return. Sounds outlandish doesn’t it?

    All clubs will ‘prostitute’ themselves for cash. Governments have to stop this as they did smoking.

    If they paid more attention to what causes obesity and spent less money on bloody silly adverts telling us to eat five serves of this and three serves of that, we might get some small solution to the obesity epidemic.

    I’m sick to damn death programs that pull the plug out, but make no attempt to switch the tap off.

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