Hummel, ING, GLS or the Dänische Landesbank: A number of companies are boycotting the football World Cup in Qatar. And many of those who advertise there, such as Adidas, Telekom or Budweiser, at least conceal the location of the event. They are doing exactly what branding experts advised them beforehand: If you are going to advertise, then at least exclude Qatar. Anything else damages your brand. Or to put it another way: If you advertise with Qatar, the human rights violations can backfire on you.
The strategy of food giant Rewe, which to a certain extent does not fit into either of the two playbooks, is therefore all the more exciting. The Cologne-based company ended its cooperation with the German Football Association (DFB) on Tuesday after it caved in to a dispute with Fifa. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will wear the official FIFA captain's armband in the first World Cup match against Japan. The diversity armband, which the DFB and eight other nations actually wanted to wear, remains in the locker. Otherwise, sporting sanctions would have threatened, for example a yellow card.
Rewe now responded to the lack of attitude in an entrepreneurial manner and terminated the cooperation prematurely. "For me, as the CEO of a diverse company and as a football fan, Fifa's scandalous attitude is absolutely unacceptable," said Rewe boss Lionel Souque in pithy words. The DFB scrapbook distributed by the company is now being released freely.
In the past, for the World Cups in South Africa or Brazil, Rewe built monumental stadiums out of beer crates. A whole generation grew up in Rewe fan jerseys. Now, for the World Cup in Qatar, there was just one DFB scrapbook with 35 player cards. And that too without a connection to Qatar. Even non-nominated players like Kevin Volland or Ridle Baku made it into the loveless ensemble. Or to put it another way: the fact that Rewe is now so pompously separating from the DFB is in complete contrast to reality. And it is an example of what it actually is: the greatest possible pose with the least possible effort.
On the value front, on LinkedIn and Twitter, the decision was of course still celebrated - probably only topped by the marketing department of the Cologne company itself. They landed a real coup: timing, low costs, maximum attention - everything fits with this campaign. And the group is also on the right side.
In fact, there is nothing wrong with the decision itself. On the contrary: every action, every sign against this unjust World Cup in Qatar is important. And Rewe is not responsible for the overwhelming reactions. On the contrary, these could even send a signal to other companies that have so far shied away from tough cuts. And here especially those who, like Rewe, only have small sponsorship deals. That would actually be good news and could gradually move the associations to rethink.
This comment first appeared here on capital.de.