Video: Budweiser “Rise as One” World Cup documentray trailer
The AB Inbev-owned beer became the latest sponsor to try and influence the governing body over fears its decision to not be seen to be taking an ethical stance amid the ongoing speculation could damage the brand. Fellow sponsors such as Sony, Adidas and Visa, who pay millions to benefit from the World Cup’s halo-effect, finally broke their silence yesterday (9 June) over similar fears following a week of increasing media pressure after initial reports.
In a statement the brewer, who is signed on to sponsor the tournament until 2022, said: “We are concerned about the situation and are monitoring developments.”
Budweiser echoes the sentiments from fellow sponsors, who called on FIFA to investigate the claims “appropriately” and take action in the wake of the findings. The organisation’s marketing chief attempted to downplay the concerns and claimed its partners had “100 per cent” confidence in the current investigation.
The investigation into allegations former Qatari FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam bribed fellow officials in order to secure the country’s bid for the 2022 World Cup will not be revealed until after the summer event.
Sponsorship experts observe the brands in question are about to see four years of planning come to fruition and would have felt under significant pressure to make a statement of some sort.
Joel Seymour-Hyde, vice president of strategy at sponsorship consulting group Octagon, says: “I wouldn’t necessary say this is about the growing influence of sponsors on rights holders – there has always been that pressure there. Sponsors demand more from rights holders in terms of access to content and innovation in terms of rights packages and activation then they use to, of course that’s true; however, I don’t see that as necessarily related to these type of incidents.
“What has changed is the pressure on sponsors from external forces to have an opinion on these issues, which in turn they then have to apply to the rights holder.”
McDonald’s, Emirates, Continental and Johnson&Johnson are yet to make their stances on the 2022 World Cup scandal public.