Shut up with your ethics, the Euros are on!
You can hear it in your head right now, can’t you? Even if you’re not a fan of football, or of the Champions League the song is iconic. It’s unforgettable and it’s an earworm.
Whenever you hear it you are instantly transferred to a place in your mind. It might be at a stadium, or sitting beside your grandfather in front of a television as a child, or it may even be in a bar somewhere annoyed at your partner for ignoring you.
Regardless, it works. You know what you are listening to and you know how that makes you feel instantly.
I almost guarantee you that you also have an image that pops into your head. It’s of the trophy sitting beside an unmistakable, green, corporate logo.
That song, trophy and football competition make you think of Heineken. That’s because the beer company has been a sponsor of the Champions League since before the turn of the century.
The idea that a sponsorship can affect consumer behaviour almost seems quant these days. The thinking is that people these days are too sophisticated, too digitally aware, to fall for it.
But, yet…that song and what you associate it with. That lives rent free in your mind. The company gets free advertising everytime someone hears it.
Which is why companies keep doing it and siome, like Heineken, double down on it.
They added the Uefa Euro to their sponsorship portfolio in 2016 and remain one of the tournament’s presenting sponsors for Euro 2020, which starts on Friday.
They join an interesting bunch, with several emerging companies jumping on the sponsorship bandwagon.
Along with long-time companies Coke (NASDAQ: COKE) and Heineken (AMS: HEIA) we have Qatar Airlines, Chinese owned TikTok and Vivo, along with the Just Eat group (AMS:TKWY).
What’s most interesting here is that three of the companies aren’t based in Europe and, in TikTok’s case, don’t necessarily have a monetary gain in being a sponsor of the tournament.
So why are they?
Sportwashing, is why.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, sportwashing refers to the idea that a company or, in some cases, government associates themselves with a positive thing then people will forget other, negative things that they do.
Instead of paying for customers, they are paying for goodwill. It’s the idea behind Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour pouring billions into Manchester City or Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leader of Qatar, doing the same for PSG.
In the club game it’s easier to see sportwashing in action, but make no mistake that’s what Qatar Airlines, which is an extension of the Qatari government, is doing here. The Chinese companies are also looking to associate themselves with non-Chinese things when facing a western audience.
Should we, as football fans, care?
I can’t answer that for you. I do know that we are accepting of western companies trying to make money off of us through these associations and, to me, this isn’t much different.
And, they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. So, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to crack a can of Heineken open as I wait for my Just Eat takeaway to arrive, while I play on my Vivo phone waiting for the Euro to kick-of