Cristiano Ronaldo rejected the strategically placed Coca-Cola bottles at the press conference of the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship this week, which allowed sponsors and event organizers to scramble to limit the loss of endorsement deals.
The Portuguese star’s gesture picked up a bottle of water on Monday and said “Agua… No Coca-Cola”. Other players including Italian midfielder Manuel Locatelli imitated, while France’s Paul Pogba was in The Heineken beer bottle was taken out of the media pledge later this week.
UEFA, the governing body of European football, has contacted national football associations and asked teams to avoid actions that may affect the sponsors of the tournament. Each sponsor has paid approximately US$30 million to support the tournament.
But there are no specific rules governing how players must discuss the euro’s corporate partners. According to a European football executive, Cristiano Ronaldo is “too strong, no one can tell him what to do”, and he has not received any condemnation.
Recognition is a reflection of change Balance of power At the top of the biggest sport in the world. Highly paid athletes seem to be more willing to challenge the media and marketing deals reached in the leagues and competitions they participate in if these financial needs conflict with their own carefully crafted corporate image or sincere beliefs.
Ronaldo’s viral spread led some media to claim that the incident had wiped out billions of dollars in the market value of the American beverage company. But before the press conference began, Coca-Cola’s stock price fell by about 1% in early trading, and this decline was responsible for most of the decline that day.
In the following days, the stock has been steadily falling, although it managed to regain some of its losses on Thursday, closing at $54.95 that day.
Although Locatelli seems to be joking with Ronaldo, Pogba is a devout Muslim. He removed the Heineken bottle in front of him at the post-match press conference on Tuesday, even though the item came from The non-alcoholic product beer of Dutch brewers.
Muslim athletes refused to participate in the marketing activities of alcoholic beverage brands and gambling groups on the grounds of their religious beliefs. “When it comes to the beverages they choose, we fully respect everyone’s decision,” Heineken said.
Last month, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka Unplug Participating in the French Open, instead of participating in a mandatory press conference, shows that they have harmed her mental health. The media’s visit to the players after the game is considered to be the key to the value of the tournament’s TV broadcast.
Ronaldo Known for sharing photos of his intensive training program on Instagram, he has about 300 million followers on Instagram and expresses his dissatisfaction with his children drinking carbonated drinks.
According to Forbes, many of his sponsorship agreements are in line with this image of healthy living, such as sponsorships with sportswear group Nike and nutrition company Herballife-these sponsorships helped him become the first person to earn $1 billion in his career. Football player.
However, the player had previously appeared in Coca-Cola and KFC advertisements.
Sports marketing expert Tim Crow (Tim Crow) said: “I have to say that the industry has collectively questioned Ronaldo. He has a long record of brand endorsements, some of which are not in line with his obvious lifestyle.”. “There are many. Cynical.”
Ricardo Fort was a former executive of The Coca-Cola Company. He has spent nearly 20 years managing the company’s sports partnership. He said that this incident is an example of infringement and sponsors may be entitled to damages.
“sometimes [rights infringement] It may come from competitors in ambush events, sometimes it may come from organizers, and sometimes players,” he said. “In general, this is a big distraction for events and companies that invest a lot of money. ”
According to a person familiar with the matter, although the use of bottles as product implants is a contractual obligation of UEFA’s deals with Coca-Cola and Heineken, neither of these two brands have requested compensation.
UEFA stated that players can “choose their favorite drink” during the game. Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment.
England coach Gareth Southgate defended corporate sponsorship on Thursday, saying that “their funds at all levels help sports operations”. This position was supported by his team captain Harry Kane, who added: “Obviously, if the sponsor pays, they have the right to do what they want.”
For a long time, athletes prefer their own marketing deals rather than the precedents of the groups they play for. At the 1992 Olympics, American basketball player Michael Jordan chose to cover the Reebok logo with a strategic American flag on his official uniform. This was an expression of loyalty to Jordan’s personal sponsor Nike.
But recently, athletes have gained greater control over the brands they are associated with, thanks in large part to their direct connections with fans through social media.
Osaka, the highest paid female athlete in the world, Has accumulated a set of her own sponsors Because of her excellent performance record, and frank advocacy of racial injustice and mental health, and a large amount of social media following.
This group of independent-minded athletes at the top of sports is forcing competition organizers and their sponsors to reconsider long-term marketing strategies.
“Today, tomorrow and in the future there are 1 billion Coke,” Crowe said. “But the question is: Is there a better way to do this? I suspect there is a better way to convey its message than smashing a bottle in front of an athlete.”