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Euro 2020 ‘Bottlegate’: Pogba, Ronaldo and the Sponsors Snub


Due to their mass viewership, influencers are able to endorse companies by encouraging members of the public to buy certain products, or they are able to discourage the purchase of particular products without necessarily making verbal expressions.

This phenomenon is acutely demonstrated in the cases of Coca-Cola and Heineken, both of which were embroiled in controversies featuring high-profile footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba. Both of these cases featured a toll on company profits and market value.

During a Euro 2020 press conference, Cristiano Ronaldo removed two Coca-Cola bottles from in front of him to the side to promote healthy eating, and picked up a bottle of water whilst proclaiming the term “water” in Portuguese.

This incident was broadcasted internationally and made headlines causing Coca-Cola to lose $4 billion in market value.

In a similar fashion, Paul Pogba followed the day after Ronaldo’s press conference, possibly inspired by him which led him to move bottles of non-alcoholic Heineken beer because the brand conflicts with his Muslim faith.

Both Ronaldo and Pogba’s actions sparked debate between fans and members of the public alike, with their opinions on healthy eating and religious beliefs aligning with those of many others. Even so, Ronaldo’s actions had a significant impact on Coca-Cola’s stock whilst Pogba’s actions did not have much of an influence on Heineken. Let us explore the reason for this.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Coca-Cola

In the last six years Coca-Cola has spent over $4 billion on advertising each year and is one of the biggest sponsors of the UEFA Euros. It has been supporting the game and its players for over 30 years. However, the appearance of Coca-Cola bottles on-screen would prove problematic.

In the aftermath of Ronaldo’s stunt, the share price of Coca-Cola dropped by 1.6% from $56.10 to $55.20 on June 14th (the day of the press conference) to $53.77 by June 17th. Its market value has since been steadily decreasing. Recently, however, the share price has partly rebounded, showing a steady increase above $54.

Source: Google Finance

This may suggest that the profit loss was merely a market correction caused by the lack of sales during this period rather than an extended profitability problem. Nevertheless, this occurrence emphasises the extent of the impact that influencers have over the market.

Since Ronaldo is one of the most prominent figures on Instagram, boasting over 200 million followers and is one of the foremost internationally recognised footballers, it is no surprise that he was able to influence the public’s purchasing decisions to such a great extent.

Paul Pogba and Heineken

Similarly to Coca-Cola, Heineken’s share prices were also affected due to the actions of a single individual.

Heineken became an official sponsor of the UEFA Euros when it signed a sponsorship agreement in 2019. This allowed it to actively promote its brand in the form of advertisement and bottle placement during interviews to the press.

After the France vs. Germany match on Tuesday 15th, which ended 1-0 to France, during an interview, Paul Pogba spotted the Heineken beer bottle in front of him and like Cristiano Ronaldo, put it out of camera shot.

Though Pogba chose to move the beer due to his religious beliefs, and even though this beer was 0% alcohol, these actions had an effect on the share price of Heineken, which features a slight downward trajectory due to poor advertisement.

The pregame share price of Heineken on Monday was around $98.22 and after Pogba’s actions, the price dipped only slightly, closing at $98.12. The next day, the price rose from the market opening to $99.54 and currently rests around $101.40.

Heineken did not immediately release a statement regarding Pogba’s actions but has announced that it will not place alcohol in front of Muslim players.

Paul Pogba / Shutterstock

Pogba’s actions did not have a direct effect on profitability and therefore there was no decrease in intrinsic value. Regardless, negative or unfavourable press presents the risk of damaged profitability in the markets.

Whilst some investors rushed to sell shares and drive the price down, the incident did not have a lasting impact on Heineken’s share price. Pogba’s actions did not ultimately affect net profits or cash flows as fundamental analysis shows that the value of the stock was unflustered by the media frenzy.

What do we make of this?

When comparing the outcomes of the aforementioned scenarios, Ronaldo’s public statement was more financially impactful. This is either because it reinforced the already widespread message that Coca-Cola is not a healthy product, or because Ronaldo wields substantially more power and influence in the global sphere than Pogba.

Nevertheless, Pogba’s action brought about a different type of change, since his message was predicated on religious beliefs – something fundamentally deeper than health or lifestyle choices.

In this battle of outcomes, it is difficult to determine which player was more successful in pushing their respective message forward.

It is evident in both these cases that actions by influential individuals – whether at the hands of CEOs or global athletes – can affect the share price of companies. Their influences can extend to effects on brands, financial markets, and even topical social issues.

It will be interesting to observe whether these actions have lasting impacts on the respective brands or if the markets just mark this as a blip soon to be corrected.

The power of an individual can be substantial, and many are calling for more securities and antitrust regulations on stock manipulation due to individual actions and the effects that these events can have on global markets.

Perhaps further clarity on these rules is required for more stability in the stock markets.

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