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Did Ronaldo score an own goal by passing Coke bottles?

Our friends over at Kantar regularly share their research and insight reports with us about PR, social media and marketing, and one in particular caught our eye this month – not least because it’s (loosely) about football and landed right in the middle of the Euros!

Drawing on social media usage, this report from the world's leading data, insights and consulting company examines the impact of the six official sponsors of Euro 2020. The brands involved include Coca Cola, Heineken, TikTok, Qatar Airways, Vivo and JustEat.

However, Coca Cola and Heineken suddenly found themselves receiving a lot more exposure than even they could have anticipated. First, Cristiano Ronaldo sat down for a press conference and moved two Coke bottles off the table and out of sight. He then pointed to a water bottle, implying that people should lay off the fizzy sugary drink and opt for the clear stuff instead.

Two days later, it was Paul Pogba’s turn to remove a bottle of Heineken from a press conference table. Suddenly the spotlight was shining brightly on these two brands and social media exploded! UEFA then fanned the flames when they issued a statement reminding teams of their obligations to tournament sponsors and social media was awash with memes, comments and jokes.

Anyway, the number crunchers at Kantar have delved deep into Twitter activity surrounding the furore and hopefully you can see how that got us excited?!

The hashtags #drinkwater, #CocaCola and #Euro2020 all trended for several days afterwards, and then came the press stories that the incident had wiped a staggering $4bn off Coca Cola’s share price. However, Kantar suggests that most of this drop was actually recorded before the press conference, due to a dividend payment, and that, in fact, the price actually rose after Ronaldo’s snub.

Coca Cola and Heineken suddenly found themselves attracting a lot more attention than any of the other sponsors. In a single afternoon, on the 16th June, 38,340 Tweets mentioned Coca Cola, against a more modest count of 10,526 mentions for Heineken. Coca Cola also grew its Twitter following by more than 6,200 in the four days after the Ronaldo episode.

Over a 10-day period, on average more than 17,000 Tweets a day mentioned Coca Cola with the potential for 2.7 billion impressions. Heineken averaged more than 5,000 Tweets a day resulting in approximately 877 million impressions, although approximately a fifth of these focussed on the Heineken Star of the Match prize, which saw images of players that included Heineken branding shared widely.

By comparison, TikTok averaged 410 daily posts, Qatar Airways landed on 363, Vivo was 297 and Just Eat gobbled up just 113.

So, when a major sports star with 550 million social media followers, slams Coca Cola, is it good or bad for the brand? The truth is, it’s very difficult to tell and there have been lots of conflicting opinions flying around about it.

For me personally, I enjoy drinking Coca Cola (in moderation of course) and it’s a lifestyle choice, which is probably the same for most other people who enjoy the occasional fizzy drink – we already know it’s not the healthiest option. Plus, the water brand that Ronaldo held up is also owned by Coca Cola, so you could argue that although he took with one, he gave with the other.

Ultimately, I knew from the age of 10 that I’d never make it as a sports superstar, so it definitely won’t change my Coke habit!

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