With their power of denunciation, sponsors have a major role in the world of sport. Taking a position also allows them to take care of their image. Too bad, however, that this moral requirement is not always supported internally.
The management of the Antwerp football club is breathing a little. This Thursday, its biggest sponsor, the Port of Antwerp, decided to maintain its support for the club. In the space of a few days, however, Xior, VINCI Energies, Select Group, Federal Insurance and Descroe decided to put an end to their collaboration with the Antwerp club. The reason is called Overmars. The former Batavian football star has brilliantly converted into a renowned sports director.
If his professionalism was remarkable, his interpersonal skills, particularly with women, have already been problematic. After sending inappropriate messages and intimate photos, the sporting director was fired by Ajax Amsterdam, his previous employer. Free, the president of Antwerp found the idea interesting to recruit him for his club.
Some of his supporters disagreed. Five sponsors no longer wish to associate their image with the club and this dubious choice. Antwerp and its wealthy owner will get over it. The most unpleasant consequence of this withdrawal is perhaps not financial. The club’s image could well be damaged in the long term. The movement of these five sponsors had the power to raise the scandal even further.
This exit with honors will necessarily have a positive impact for these five brands.
The cynics, however, will speak of a nice publicity stunt. This exit with honors will necessarily have a positive impact for these five brands which, by breaking their contract, give themselves a “committed” image, all at a relatively good price. Certainly, we will no longer see them in small on a football shirt. Corn instead, their name appeared in all the media, sometimes even foreigners, including the famous French daily Le Monde. Marketing managers will do the accounts, but the overall image assessment is certainly not negative.
We don’t mess with morality
In the fabulous world of sports business, we don’t mess with morality. This type of withdrawal is obviously not a first. Cheating, immoral behavior or problematic consumption goes pretty badly with sponsors. Thierry Henry and his hand against Ireland, Tiger Woods and his extramarital stories or Michael Phelps photographed smoking cannabis can testify to this. All of them lost at least one support following an attitude that was not exemplary, on or off the pitch.
“Too bad, however, that this moral requirement is not always applied with such intransigence on the side of the sponsors.”
Even if brands can derive a personal interest from it, impossible not to welcome the step. Too bad, however, that this moral requirement is not always applied with such intransigence by the sponsors themselves. The greatest lesson givers might look in their backyard sometimes.
The king of exemplary morality in sponsorship is called Nike. His campaigns are always licked with often a strong message. The one in support of Colin Kaepernick, the American quarterback who was the first to kneel to denounce the treatment of blacks by the police, was an already historic example. It will even have played in the societal debate. However, at the same time, Nike was facing significant harassment problems within its group, including the forced departure of its president. At the time, curiously, we did not see a campaign on the issue.