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Learn all about Sportswashing and how it affects Sports Marketing. Sport, in its various disciplines, is a practice that exalts nations, fills their fellow citizens with pride, and can show the best side of a country in the United States and many other countries.
However, sometimes, certain sporting events tarnish their reputation by being linked to governments whose practices are not the best. As well as, carrying out renowned activities in countries that are not in line with prevailing social and human worldwide norms.
To try to validate this type of event, the organizers, as well as the countries, seek the sponsorship of renowned brands and alliances with favorite teams, which have a good track record and a high number of followers and fans and manage to divert the attention of another type of circumstances of a social or political nature that arise in the host country.
All this seeks to improve the image of a government or the perception that the rest of the world may have regarding a specific country. This includes its customs, way of governing, specifically its practices regarding the prevalence of human rights.
This is known as Sportswashing, which does not have to do with the monetary aspect. Although this factor influences, it is more inclined to clean up the moral image of a country where many brands participate as sponsors and ambassadors engaging in advertising.
But how does this work, and how can it affect a brand? Continue reading so that you know about this practice that is so current today.
What is Sportswashing?
Thus, sportswashing is carried out by the organizations of sporting events, the purchase or sponsorship of teams, or through participation in the sport itself. Therefore, brands play a relevant and determining role in this.
At the state level, this is a sportswashing done to clean up the image of a government. To divert attention from the history of erroneous practices regarding the protection and prevalence of human rights and other types of scandals they need to get away from the local and even global public eye.
How brands and advertising influence sportswashing
However, the presence of brands is necessary for sportswashing because they serve as an endorsement of competitions and tournaments. The more recognized the sponsors are, the greater acceptance they will have on the part of the public. It will also serve to convince those who are reluctant to attend or participate in any way, either as a protest or to go against the host country’s values.
In sportswashing, they use sport by appealing to the feelings and emotions of fans, spectators, and followers to change the perception of a country, its government, and even people or individuals. For example, an athlete involved in a scandal or has been a participant in activities or attitudes contrary to morality and good customs.
Therefore, when seeing a well-known sponsoring brand or institution such as UNICEF, or Emirates, among others, many people probably look at the event with different eyes and perceive it differently. They end up accepting it and even attending games without considering or actively criticizing the policy that governs the host country.
- It seeks to improve the reputation of countries with regimes that violate human rights and have poor foreign policy records.
- Achieve popular acceptance through the participation of recognized brands, including sports and entertainment personalities.
- There is a justification for the enjoyment of the sport.
- It is a way of advertising.
- A large amount of money is invested to achieve the goals.
Sportswashing and history
Another almost emblematic one was the Soccer World Cup in Argentina in 1978, a country that two years before had gone through a coup and was governed by the armed forces under a repressive regime. The sporting event was used by the government and by some human rights organizations to make propaganda about the national reorganization process.
Throughout the years, and even more so today, we have seen how sports competitions are carried out in countries where there are evident violations of human rights or that are governed by oppressive governments. The most recent example is the Qatar Soccer World Cup 2022, which was held recently. Days before its inauguration, the boycott and protests will intensify over the working conditions of those who dedicated themselves to building the stadiums and the prohibitions for the tourists, among others.
Sportswashing and Marketing
In many cases, brands are driven by the desire and objective of getting more customers and being recognized and achieving that visibility they need to position themselves. However, along the way, they may come across these types of offers to participate in events classified as sportswashing, being on the wrong side, and giving the wrong message to the public.
Consequences for a brand being part of sportswashing
Therefore, if the sponsoring brand does not establish a strong and well-defined position of its values and objectives and its relationship with the event or its organizers, it may fall into the same bag as these.
In general, it could confuse the true meaning of why they are participating and associate them with a simple unscrupulous profit at the expense of repression.
For this reason, the importance of making the position very clear since the risk and consequences of not doing so are significant.
When creating an association, mutual support is also born; the brands invest a lot of money to improve their image. Yet, if a sporting event becomes contaminated in the eyes of the fans, this will reach and infect the brand in the same way.
Solutions for brands
Although, if the person behind the organization of a championship or at the head of a team is a bad actor, this calls into question those campaigns for social causes and all the publicity created around giving visibility to the event.
Before this situation, brands could play a key role in establishing standards and take advantage of their presence to speak out against the lack of ethics and practices in sports sponsorship. Since there are divided opinions among fans, there is no it can be assumed that everyone cares or ignores it.
One solution is not to participate as an official sponsor of an event that is a case of sportswashing. In this way, they can operate more safely without being compromised by the event organizers or the host country and logically avoid affecting the brand’s image.
If you want to improve your brand’s perception and increase your clientele and sales, you are in the right place with the experts at BluCactus.
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