Fans to Coke's rescue with creative UGC after Ronaldo's snub at Euro 2020

Consumers have gotten creative with Coca-Cola's recent snub by Cristiano Ronaldo at a recent UEFA EURO 2020 press conference, by creating funny videos and memes. Some made TikTok videos using the exact moment when Ronaldo shifted two bottles of Coca-Cola away from him before cutting to scenes of them accepting the drink gleefully. One TikTok user named Raynmagic even put a twist to Ronaldo's original press conference by showing what really went on behind the scenes. 

He played Ronaldo's press conference video in reverse, in which the footballer was seen raising a glass of water and moving it away before reaching out to grab two bottles of coke from Raynmagic on the side. Meanwhile, another TikTok user going by the username of Nathanconnortv acted out a fictionalised reaction of Coca-Cola as soon as Ronaldo sits down for the press conference. All excited, Coca-Cola tells Ronaldo: "I've placed two bottles of Coke in front of you. If you could have swig out of one of the bottles, our sales will rocket. Or both of them, even better! That's why you are the GOAT (great of all time)." Coca-Cola did not respond to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's queries.

Multiple media reports including CBS News and The Washington Post previously reported that Coca-Cola’s market value dipped by US$4 billion by the end of the press conference.

Industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE previously spoke to said this signals the importance of the need for brands to be much smarter when activating product placement and that authenticity is key. UEFA also 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.

Meanwhile, Samir Dixit, MD of Brand Finance Asia told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the drop in share price may or may not necessarily impact the intangible value, also known as the brand value of a particular brand. In fact, there is very little correlation that if one drops or increases, the other would mirror the impact.

"In the case of Coca-Cola and Ronaldo, while there was a drop in the market cap of approximately US$4 billion for the company, the brand value impact would perhaps be no more than 1% to 2% only in a worst-case scenario, if at all," he said.

The event may have actually triggered an increase in the purchase of less sugary variants of coke such as Coke light, Coke Zero and Coke Stevia. It may have also had a positive impact on the bottled water brand and the juice brands owned by Coca Cola.

Dixit explained that this is the advantage that global brands with large portfolios enjoy where other brand variants can easily cushion the impact of a negative news association with one brand or a variant. 

Interestingly, online discussions were not entirely aimed at taking a jab at Coca-Cola but rather to create viral user-generated content based on the press conference video and in account of Ronaldo's prestige, Digimind found.

Statistics provided to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE showed that from 13 to 23 June, positive sentiment was at 48% while 24% was negative. The remaining 28% was netural. Social mentions around Coca-Cola spiked more 343% on 15 June globally after the press conference. Online mentions increased by 163% the next day to 110k online mentions. When it came to brand impact, however, social conversations around the "Ronaldo" topic formed 26.3% when compared against overall brand mentions in terms of volume. 

In a similar move, the French footballer snubbed Heineken by removing a beer bottle away from view. Following this, it set up Ukrainian footballer Andriy Yarmolenko to enthusiastically joke about the two brands to consider directing sponsorships his way instead. While Ronaldo certainly did make headlines news that aligned well to his “healthy” image, Digimind said not all netizens were impressed by the footballer’s explicit, public snub. Some deemed his behaviour as uncalled for, whereas others rebuked him for negatively affecting Coca-Cola’s market value.

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In regards to the market, Digimind said some speculate the power celebrity influencers hold just by muttering words such as “drink water” – especially in the recent case of Elon Musk’s involvement with Bitcoin prices – which gave the perception that brands could manipulate market movements in their marketing strategies just by elevating the right influencer-spokesperson. In light of the social commentary, netizens were also found to have played on the humour with one meme that likened Ronaldo’s stunt to Pablo Escobar, who “moved coke”, albeit in a radically different fashion. The tweet went viral with 2.9K retweets and 6.2K interactions.

Among the list of trending topics online included "Pablo Escobar", "Heineken", "billion", "Cristiano Ronaldo", "Paul Pogba", and "vicinity". Digimind's head of APAC, Olivier Girard, said while placing a brand such as Coca-Cola in front of arguably the biggest influencer in the world at this moment might be an opportunity worth risking, companies and brands should always be prepared for contingencies in the worst cases possible.

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"As one of the official sponsors of Euro 2020, it was understandable in the eyes of the public and within the brand’s right to display their beverage where there is most visibility in the media. However, brands should undoubtedly take in consideration how influencers might resonate with their image, especially with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo who is predominantly known to maintain his level of physique," he added.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

Video courtesy: Nathan Connor TV, Mr Kind Finds, Breakatunezz, Siva John, and Andres M.

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