It’s the flipside of the rise of sports influencers.
When Cristiano Ronaldo shrugged off some Coca-Cola at a Monday press conference for the UEFA European Football Championship, it coincided with a sell-off in shares of The Coca-Cola Company.
The incident shows how individual star power, amplified by huge social media followings, can upend partnerships that companies have struck with teams and events.
Coca-Cola is one of the official sponsors of UEFA Euro 2020 (the games were postponed from last year), alongside brewer Heineken NV, as well as Just Eat Takeaway.com NV, Qatar Airways QCSC, Bytedance Ltd’s Tiktok and Chinese electronics group Vivo. Data provider SportBusiness estimates that sponsors pay about 30 million euros ($36 million) to align themselves with the tournament.
Even though the company doesn’t sponsor the footballer himself, it was directly affected by his actions. The Portuguese captain — and all-time top scorer in European Championship history — pushed a couple of Coca-Cola bottles away from himself and held up some water before declaring “agua.” It was as though he was encouraging people to drink the latter instead, and that was enough to make investors nervous about the soda maker’s prospects.
For the past five to 10 years, companies have pivoted away from teams and toward individuals, such as…