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Brands Damaged by FIFA Scandal

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Last updated: 10.04am, by Iain McGregor

Data shows Nike is the most damaged associated brand following the FIFA scandal.
from Marketing Week, Thomas Hobbs on 3 Jun 2015

After FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s shock resignation yesterday amid an ongoing investigation into corruption at the world football body, several sponsors including McDonald’s and Visa have backed his exit. However major brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola and Adidas have all suffered negative brand sentiment due to their connection with FIFA.

Measuring social sentiment across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube since the news of the FIFA scandal broke on 27 May, Nike has achieved an overwhelming backlash with 96% negative sentiment compared to just 4% positive, according to data from social media tracker Meltwater.

Although Nike is not an official sponsor of FIFA itself, its alleged involvement in bribes through a sponsorship of the Brazilian national football team has come under scrutiny.

Nike has suffered overwhelming negativity on social media from consumers, according to the data from Meltwater.

Football sports brand rival Adidas, which is a primary sponsor of FIFA, has suffered 44% negative sentiment and 56% positive sentiment as a result of the scandal.

Coca-Cola has also suffered brand damage, with a 50/50 split between positive and negative sentiment on social media channels.

Negative sentiment affected a wide range of brands
“This research shows there is a stark level of negative sentiment toward brand FIFA and a subsequent knock on effect to its associated brands,” said Henry Jones, UK Director at Meltwater.

“What will be interesting to track in the coming months is whether FIFA can overcome its negative brand association. If it doesn’t it faces alienating millions of football fans and sponsors alike.”

Brands react to Blatter exit

Sponsors such as Visa, which previously threatened to withdraw its FIFA sponsorship, and McDonald’s, which described the World Cup as a tarnished brand as a result of the scandal, were both united in their views on Blatter’s resignation.

The fast food giant said it was “hopeful the changes being implemented within FIFA will be a first step in positively reforming the organisation and gaining back trust from fans worldwide”.

The credit card brand, meanwhile, was keen to stress that there is still rebuilding to do if FIFA is to win back trust among fans and sponsors alike.

A Visa spokesman said: “We are encouraged by the recognition by FIFA that extensive and fundamental reform is needed as reflected by the announcement that President Blatter is resigning.

“This is a significant first step towards rebuilding public trust, but more work lies ahead. We repeat, however, that it is our expectation that FIFA will take swift and immediate steps towards addressing the issues within its organisation to quickly rebuild a culture with strong ethical practices that will restore the reputation of the games for fans around the world.”

Another major sponsor, Coca-Cola, said Blatter’s decision to quit will “help FIFA transform itself rapidly into a much-needed 21st Century structure and institution”.

Budweiser, the previous sponsor of England’s FA Cup, echoed Coca-Cola’s views with its own statement. It said: “We expect today’s announcement to accelerate FIFA’s efforts to resolve internal issues, install positive change and adhere to the highest ethical standards and transparency.”

Adidas said the news marked “a step in the right direction on FIFA’s path to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.”

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