If Cristiano Ronaldo disapproves of Coke, do consumers too? - analysis - Just Drinks
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If Cristiano Ronaldo disapproves of Coke, do consumers too? – analysis

16 Jun 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo's Coca-Cola snub could have longer-term implications than just a share price 'blip'.

Ahead of his home nation’s opening game at Euro 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo sat down to talk to the press. Joining the 36-year-old Portuguese on the podium were two bottles from headline sponsor The Coca-Cola Co’s namesake brand’s portfolio.

What Ronaldo did next temporarily wiped US$4bn off the soft drinks giant’s market value.

“While the power of product placement cannot be denied, Ronaldo’s rejection of Coca-Cola in favour of a bottle of water – and the subsequent impact this had on the company’s market value – highlights the ambiguity some consumers may have toward carbonated soft drinks,” says GlobalData senior consumer researcher Khalid Peerbaccus.

“Ronaldo’s decision to shine the spotlight on water rather than Coke is likely to have resonated with 57% of consumers globally who told us in our ‘2021 Q1 Global Consumer Survey, that, in the current situation, a product’s health & wellbeing claims have ‘the greatest’ influence on their purchase choice – as well as a further 28% who admit that this ‘somewhat’ affects their decisions.

“That Ronaldo is a prominent sports figure further adds weight to his promotion of water over the CSD, as many consumers view and trust him as a symbol of health.

“The temporary drop in Coca-Cola’s market value is an important reminder of the power of celebrity endorsement – or lack thereof – particularly when a product has, in recent years, received ‘bad press’, as with full-sugar CSDs.”

Thankfully for Heineken, a similar move by France midfielder Paul Pogba this week didn’t hit the brewer’s share price.

“While these acts may temporarily impact the market value of brands due to impressionable fans of the players,” Peerbaccus continues, the longer-term impact is yet to be seen.

“What it does highlight is – rightly or wrongly – the placement of such products in close proximity to high-profile athletes risks contradicting the perception of health that they embody.”