Evian rides Ronaldo's Coke snub chatter to promote hydration

Evian is leveraging on the chatter surrounding footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and Euro 2020 to encourage consumers to stay hydrated. In a recent press conference, Ronaldo removed two bottles of Coca-Cola and subsequently held up a bottle of water while saying "Agua (water)".

Evian retweeted a clip of the incident on the same day and said "Couldn't have said it better ourselves!" with the hashtags #stayhydrated, #drinktrue, and #CR7. Two days later, it once again showed its love for Ronaldo in a tweet that read: "Cristiano says #drinkwater, we say seven is the best number in the world!"

A day after, footballer Paul Pogba removed a bottle of Heineken’s non-alcoholic 0.0 beer when he settled down for a press conference. Pogba is a practising Muslim. Reuters also reported that footballer Manuel Locatelli also removed Coca-Cola bottles and placed a bottle of water in front of him before addressing the press. In response, Heineken told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that it fully respects everyone's decision when it comes to their beverage of choice.

Meanwhile, UEFA told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that it has reminded participating teams that partnerships are integral to the delivery of the tournament and to ensuring the development of football across Europe, including for youth and women.

Quoting Euro 2020 tournament director Martin Kallen, Reuters said Ronaldo's action was the main issue but there was an understanding of players who removed the bottles due to religious reasons. In this case, Kallen said they need not have a bottle there. He added that the contractual obligations concerning sponsors were part of the tournament regulations signed by the national federations and that UEFA has not meted out any disciplinary actions. 

In 2019, Coca-Cola came on board as the official non-alcoholic beverage sponsor for UEFA EURO 2020. The brand has enjoyed a long partnership with UEFA, having first signed up to sponsor UEFA European football’s premier national team tournament in 1988, UEFA said in a press statement previously.  Meanwhile, Heineken also signed a sponsorship agreement in 2019 to become the official beer partner of UEFA EURO 2020. According to UEFA, the sponsorship deal includes exclusive pouring rights at stadiums, fan zones and fan villages during the tournament, LED pitch boarding exposure, digital rights, Man of the Match presentations, match screenings and ticket giveaways. Heineken will also activate global TV and digital integrated marketing campaigns using its global football ambassador, Thierry Henry.

According to industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to, these two incidents highlight the importance of authenticity in brand sponsorship. While both brands have authentic links to viewers of the tournament, industry commentators said they “badly missed the mark” at being authentic in the setting of a post-match interview.

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Analysis: Ronaldo and Pogba's snub of Coke and Heineken raise questions on sponsorship authenticity