Following hot on the heels of five FIFA sponsors axing their association with the beleaguered property owner, Australian sportswear company Skins has now become the first, self-styled Official FIFA Non-Sponsor.
Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller announced the brand’s global anti-association via a YouTube film and at a launch event for the new FIFA Now campaign group at the European Parliament.
In the launch video Jaimie Fuller said:
‘After a board discussion on the usual payments allegedly accepted by FIFA: $5million, an opulent banquet or…a Picasso painting, we decided to not pay FIFA anything. But the main thing here isn’t not giving them money; it’s about making football better. Making it a game free of corruption, lies and backhanders.
‘This anti-FIFA stance is intended to be fun and engaging but it carries a very serious message in support of newfifanow.org. We’re subverting traditional sponsorship activities to make a very clear statement – ‘Sepp, we just want football back’.
The Skins chairman, one of FIFANow’s founders, unveiled his company as FIFA’s first ‘official non-sponsor’ and launched its spoof sponsorship activation online hub at www.officialnonsponsor.com
Central to the core activity is a social activation ‘demanding football back’, which encourages supporters from across the world to show their desire for change.
On the site fans are able to make their own FIFA protest and, after logging-on, consumers are offered a series of non-sponsor opportunities – including the chance to not win tickets to the next World Cup.
The site also provides a non-sponsor style-guide for other brands to adopt, as well as an eBay listing which ‘invites’ bids for ‘FIFA silence’.
There is also a limited-edition range of (non-available) transparent Skins products.
The campaign also included a print strand – with a full-page ad in embattled FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter’s local Swiss newspaper.
The launch of the campaign and of New FIFA Now has been timed to coincide with FIFA’s presidential election campaign.
In a new twist on the old-school guerilla ‘unofficial sponsor’ tactic, this initiative is less a commercially-driven tactical ambush from a rebel brand and more of a corporate cause style protest movement.
This ‘non-multi-million pound partnership’ announcement enables Skins to highlight ‘unshared brand values’.
‘I’m delighted this ongoing non-deal highlights all the values we don’t share with FIFA,’ explains Fuller.
The campaign’s objective is to subvert traditional sponsorship activities in order to make a clear corporate statement.
‘It is an exciting non-association which will shine a light on the organisation’s unprogressive stance, discredited values and all round non-integrity. This anti-FIFA stance is intended to be fun and engaging but it carries a very serious message in support of www.newfifanow.org.
While FIFA has recently admitted it has suffered ‘reputational damage’ and a ‘sponsorship challenge’ after a series of scandals, this initiative aims to gather and drive support for institutional change within FIFA.
The campaign leverages FIFA’s current woes – particularly the financial blow and negative PR that has accompanied the recent departure of five of its major partners (Castrol, Continental, Emirates, Johnson & Johnson and Sony).
While none of the five departing former sponsors openly referenced FIFA’s current crisis, the loss of so many major global corporations from its partnership programme in a relatively short space of time certainly raises questions about the ongoing value of commercial associations with the FIFA brand.
This is much more serious that the playful ‘unofficial’ campaigns we’ve seen in past – such a Kulala’s ‘Unofficial Carrier Of the You-Know-What’ at the 2010 World Cup (see previous case study).
Perhaps we are moving into a new era of brand protests and athlete activists (particularly after the recent protest statement that saw several of the NBA’s highest profile stars wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts (referring to the final words of New Yorker Eric Garner who died after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD).
Skins Non Sponsor Website:
Skins Non Sponsor Hashtag:
New FIFA Now