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When is a brand not a brand?

June 8, 2011

Another brand related post today.  Although with a slight twist.  I understand that I am probably not very well qualified to pass judgement on football matters.

Okay, not qualified at all… but here goes.

The recent explosion of news around FIFA left me wondering a little about the relationship between brands and their customers / fans. 

Marketing published a brand health check of FIFA  stating that the brand is in terminal decline.

Judging from the amount of media coverage there’s a lot of discontent from the fans.  But, as the article points out – ultimately there’s not a lot they can do.

FIFA is a governing body – in my mind they are something like the government of football. 

The problem is that this isn’t really a government.  It’s more akin to a dictatorship.

Because the public can’t vote for another party.

So from a consumer perspective there isn’t much you can do.  You may not like the brand.  You may be completely disillusioned with it.  But still, if you want to watch international football there is no other choice.

Sponsors are not impressed.  So at what point does an event / governing body behaving badly become like a celebrity behaving badly – and how fast will brands want to distance themselves from it?

Alternatively, will they even want to distance themselves from it?

Past a little bit of speculation nothing earth-shattering seems to have happened.  People seem much more upset about Giggs and Reebok at the moment.  

Bear with me. 

At the end of the day sponsorship of the sport at a national level is a way to reach a huge number of people. 

Sporting events become a showcase for creativity.  Think about the Superbowl.  Think about how hard brands that weren’t even sponsoring the last world cup upped the ante (in particular the brilliant Nike ‘Write the Future’ work that ambushed attention).  

When your average fan is at the match do they really associate it back to the corruptness of FIFA.  And do they associate the brand FIFA with Mastercard that’s all over the ball? Just how far is there overlap between the two?

Maybe that’s why the brands were all watching and waiting, and haven’t publically done anything.

I wonder whether sponsorship at this level isn’t so much about finding a brand that fits the brand image.  It’s simply about getting the message across.  About being associated with the event, not the people that organise it.

FIFA is a platform.  Does it matter, brand wise , if the platform is suspect so long as the message gets to the right people?

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