While every football fan in Europe watched to see the final outcome of group F, also dubbed the group of death, a controversial decision by the UEFA sparked a response from major sponsors. Last Tuesday, UEFA decided to reject the proposal of the Munich City Council to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for the match between Germany and Hungary. Recently, Hungary’s parliament passed “a law that bans the promotion or portrayal of homosexuality or gender reassignment”.
According to the Munich councilmen, the initiative to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors was intended to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary, who are currently suffering under recent legislation.
In turn, brands used their power to support the LGBTQ+ community. The first ones to light the spark were Heineken, who posted Pride-themed imagery, and JustEat, who painted their logo in rainbow colors.
What does this mean? It is clear that the time has come when powerful brands need to own up to the responsibility of being a major social influence.
For brands, it is no longer a question of a clear competitive advantage, such as the price the customer will be paying. It’s about being authentic as a brand. What is your point of view? What do you as a brand believe in?
Brands need to exist for something, what’s your role, what are you doing for the world?
Brands caring about the world we live in is not a new phenomenon. When Volvo invented the three-point seat belt in 1959 they made the patent-free for all competitors, because it was more important to save lives than to use the invention for profit. It was their gift to the world. Today, customers demand you give something back. If a brand does not acknowledge this, it is unlikely they will stay relevant. So, the question is not if a brand should fuel positive change, it is how they get there.
While some brands choose to do it right, other brands use important causes as a facade, while not actually taking the necessary actions to bring change to their business. In turn, brands who genuinely support important causes not only say so, but choose to look deep within their organizational structure, products and generally run their business in a socially responsible manner, and this shows they actually care.
It all comes down to – are you actually “living the cause”, or is it just “for show”? Should you convince the public that your awareness is genuine?
What happened during and before the match, shows how important the message is to the fans and the players alike.
Before the said match started, a fan entered the pitch holding the LGBTQ+ flag, while Germany’s captain Manuel Neuer, wore the colorful armband in support of the community. Afterwards, Leon Goretzka dedicated his winning goal to the cause in his tweet.
The aftermath of the chain of events led to sponsors stepping up and rising to the occasion. Sponsors changed their advertising in order to support inclusivity and to honor Pride Month. Rainbow-themed pitch-side advertising has been approved by the UEFA, and this was seen at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, during the match between Wales and Denmark. Also, Booking.com and Volkswagen confirmed that their advertising will be present in all the round-of-16 matches of the Euro2020.
These sponsors chose to make a statement. While also doing good to their brand image, they ultimately took the opportunity to support an important cause. This is just a spark that shows that actually putting the values you stand for into actions is necessary. In this way, you are able to establish your business as an essential player on the global market. In other words, superficial moves are not an option, but being the change and living it.
We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.