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Racism in The Beautiful Game Worries Advertisers
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The European Championship is underway, and the games have lived up to the hype. The 2012 Euro Cup has been dealt quite the hand; being sandwiched between the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics, some may have thought that brands would sit this one out. 

Not to mention the whole racism thing.

Like the advertising industry, soccer's governing bodies have tried to deal with the problem of racism by merely ignoring it. But due to the press peering more into the subject, and brands becoming weary of it, they've issued a crackdown on racism during the tournament in Ukraine and Poland, giving brands more relief about the matter.

Brand Republic reported that companies like Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Carlsberg all have stated that they want to be as far away as possible from racist situations. So much so, in fact, that sponsors of the tournament have even devised crisis management campaigns in case something of the sort happens.

In the United States, we don't see this kind of worrying in our sports world. Soccer (or football, as the rest of the world calls it) is so ingrained in the identity of the countries and the people — the people who the brands are trying to reach — that any instance of racism could actually have detrimental effects on the brands supporting them.

Isn't that an interesting proposal: boycotting agencies that have done nothing with diversity. If Coca-Cola truly is race-conscious, should they purge agencies that have no Hispanics, women in leadership roles, or black people? If Adidas is worried about racial slurs being kicked around like its sponsored ball, should it not also consider sending off the shops that show a blatant disregard to a diverse workplace?

The 2012 Euro Cup has so far seen no outright public display of racism, and for the brands supporting the cup, that is a really good thing. If something does happen, it will be interesting to see how the brands involved manage the situation. 

As for AdLand, we guess that we have to keep bringing the conversation up until business finally depends on it.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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