BENGALURU: Football is no stranger to controversy. Most recently, football player and Portugal team’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo swapped two Coca Cola bottles for water during a press conference at the UEFA Euro 2020.
And this, has caused a huge furore with the brand supposedly facing a loss of $4 billion in market value. All this as a fallout of Ronaldo’s action, the ripples of which are being felt on social media. Football fans from across, including Bengaluru, are giving the star player a shout-out for his ‘hard-hitting’ move.
Hemanth Balasubramanian, joint secretary, Liverpool FC Bangalore Supporters’ Club, says “Sportspersons should not endorse aerated drinks because it is harmful to health. UEFA should also be held responsible for allowing a brand which is not healthy to be one of the sponsors. When we held a local-level English Premier League in 2020, an energy drink company came forward as sponsor. But we went ahead with a healthier sports-themed beverage brand,” says Balasubramanian, adding, “It is time for Indian sportspersons to take a stand on what they endorse. Their reach must be used to send out the right message.”
Following the incident, Rohith Raj, a hardcore Ronaldo fan and a city-based marketing professional, is now thinking of quitting aerated drinks. “Ronaldo’s incident was a wake-up call for me to stop drinking fizzy drinks,” says Raj, who feels that the brand will come back stronger and may even push alternative products.
Agree brand experts who opine that the beverage giant will spring back sooner than later. Sujith Mohan, a Bengaluru-based communication specialist, says, “This is not a big wound for the brand. It is just a pinch. The product is no stranger to controversies. From levelling charges of using coke as a toilet cleaner to the sugar controversies, the brand has faced it all. Things will just fizzle out.”
The episode did not stop with Ronaldo’s move. French player Paul Pogba was also seen removing Hieneken beer during a press conference last week. Following repeated incidents, UEFA Events SA CEO Martin Kallen issued a statement that players must refrain from moving sponsor bottles during press conferences.
Suvajyoti Ghosh, managing director, Brandmovers, says, “There are a lot of other market forces that have to be taken into account. But there is no doubt that the sales have taken a hit. This is because a player as big as Ronaldo communicated a message voluntarily which will make anyone reconsider before picking up the drink from a store,” says Ghosh.