Euro 2012 sponsors on red alert over claims of racism

Sponsors of the 2012 Uefa European Football Championship are today (8 June) on red alert as they seek to avoid any association of their brands with reported cases of racism in the Ukraine during the tournament.

One sponsorship expert said Euro 2012 sponsors such as Carlsberg, adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald's would want to be a "million miles" from any instances of racism during the tournament, which is being staged in the Ukraine and Poland, and begins today.

The expert said that recent press reports of racism would have sharpened sponsors' minds around "crisis management" and brands would now be discussing how to combat any possible harm to their brands.

Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency brandRapport, said: "This is obviously a concern for brands. It goes without saying they don't want any sort of controversy or nastiness, or anything that detracts from the game."

While there is no indication that Uefa sponsors are pulling back on activity because of the threat, there is a sense that the tournament has been overshadowed by the Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee, which has meant brands have found it difficult to get standout, say experts.

That said, experts believe that brands such as England football team sponsor Vauxhall have brought innovation to the market.

Vauxhall is running an internet TV show, featuring BBC pundit Steve Claridge, which will show behind-the-scenes footage of the England team during the tournament.

The show will run alongside Vauxhall's TV 'Supporting A Nation' campaign expected to be broadcast through the summer.

McDonald's, meanwhile, has launched a campaign that will support its 'Championship Menu'. The TV campaign, created by Leo Burnett, shows the highs and lows that football fans go through when watching international football.

Adidas has launched a new portal on the photo-blogging site Tumblr, which lets fans listen to podcasts and videos that feature adidas-sponsored players such as Lionel Messi and David Beckham.

Follow John Reynolds on Twitter @johnreynolds10

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