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SBD Global/September 24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

High-Profile World Cup, Olympic Sponsors Walk Fine Line Between Boon, Backfire

Sponsors of the World Cup and the Olympic Games "are accustomed to controversy," according to Amy Stillman of the FINANCIAL TIMES. With "a ready arsenal of marketing campaigns to counter such unpleasant publicity," companies "can also be taken by surprise." One such rare example was "the nationwide protests in Brazil" during June's Confederations Cup. Investment promotion agency Rio Negócios President Marcelo Haddad said, "Companies were taken by surprise and because of that, they had no plan B." Haddad counsels sponsors of the Games to have a “back-up plan” in the event of further riots. Haddad: “Companies will have to choose whether they want to move forward into high-profile exploitation of their sponsorship in the country, or to keep a low profile and do something among their suppliers or key customers.” Some companies "are already taking a more cautious approach." However, "not everyone is staying quiet." Coca-Cola "is hoping to tap into popular sentiment through social programmes including a recycling initiative, creating jobs for young people and a youth sports programme." Coca-Cola's Brazilian Government Affairs Dir Victor Bicca Neto said, “Coca-Cola has been in Brazil for more than 70 years and we know the feelings of Brazilians. We know the moment Brazil is in, we are not blind. [But] our plans are to connect with this.” Dow Chemical "also takes an optimistic view." Dow Olympic Operations Technical Dir Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi said, “We engaged in sponsorship with the Olympic Movement, it’s not just Rio 2016, it’s a long-term partnership that will span 10 years and we will try to make the most of it” (FT, 9/23).
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