You’ve doubtless already heard about how soft-drinks giant Coca-Cola depreciated in value by billions simply because football superstar Christiano Ronaldo used the word, ‘Water’ as he moved aside 2 coke bottles. But this isn’t the first time a celebrity caused a run on a brand.
Anyone who follows football is aware of how Christiano Ronaldo recently snubbed Coca-Cola by removing the display bottles placed on a table with him during a press conference sponsored by the giant beverage manufacturer. Shockingly enough, this simple action caused a massive run on Coca-Cola share prices, causing the company to lose over $4 billion within the space of a day. The very next day, French footballer Paul Pogba did the same thing with Heinekin and guess what was trending all over social media almost immediately? Yup, Heinekin!
In these days of clicks for views and social media-induced shopping trends, the actions of a single individual very often can be seen to adversely affect brands and businesses. But it’s not even a recent trend. We can go back for decades to see the same thing happen all the time. From throwaway comments about all paint containing lead causing wallpaper sales to skyrocket while paint sales plummeted, there’s nothing new about these trends, but the easy access of social media has made such things measurable too.
Let’s talk about the 5 most memorable instances of such an occurrence
1. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods in the 2000s was seen as an unstoppable force and the greatest epitome of sportsmanship. From his always cheerful demeanour on the course to his measured speech at all times, most felt he was the ultimate role model for kids. That is, of course, until his personal life was brought into question through social media and the ensuing scandal saw him lose all his massive endorsement contracts, most notably with watch giants Tag Heuer and sports brand Nike. Though both brands were quick to drop him and publicly disassociate themselves from him, the damage was done. Nike lost $1.7 million in sales and over a lakh of customers in no time at all.
2. Ivanka Trump
One of the stars of the television sensation reality show, The Apprentice, Ivanka Trump was quickly associated with her father’s racist and inflammatory rhetoric shortly after he came to power. The guilt by association went to the point where an anti-Trump group titled ‘Grab Your Wallet’ ran a successful social media boycott campaign against fashion retailer giants Nordstrom for being retailers of Ivanka’s Chinese-made shoes and clothing accessories. The retweets calling for the boycott picked up steam within days and a billion people around the world had tweeted or retweeted in support of boycotting Nordstrom within the space of a workweek before the company quickly and publicly announced that it was dropping all her products from their stores.
3. Kendall Jenner
The only one of our celebrities to make this list for 2 different reasons and 2 different products, Kendall Jenner, celebrated reality television star and social media influencer, first got into hot water in 2017 when an advertisement she made for Pepsi was seen to be trivialising such serious issues as police brutality in America and the Black Lives Matter movement opposing it when she showed that sharing a Pepsi with an aggressive police officer could stymie any violence.
The backlash and boycotts were immense and Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and Jenner lost her endorsement contract. Fast forward to May 2021 and Jenner was seen to be at it again, with her own recently released brand of tequila, 818, and her putting out an advertisement that was deemed to be culturally insensitive and inappropriate. Her tequila is currently doing very poorly as a result of the controversy and it’s anyone’s guess if she’ll be able to forge a comeback with it. Odds are that it’s unlikely.
4. Saurav Ganguly
When Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil signed up Saurav Ganguly to be their brand ambassador in April 2020, it seemed like a smart decision. The 48-year old still looked to be in great shape after a phenomenal career as a cricket star, and it made sense to India when he spoke about the health benefits of the cooking oil. Less than 9 months later, he suffered a severe heart attack and was forced to undergo extensive surgeries on his heart. The online mockery caused a serious drop to the health oil’s sales, and Ganguly was missing from all their public messaging even before his condition had been fully diagnosed. In this instance, while it was nobody’s fault that Ganguly suffered his heart attack, the health oil was ironically linked to his illness and made to suffer as a consequence.
5. Xi Jinping
Yes, this is a googly, but hear me out. The President of China has, even 18 months into this global pandemic, still been reticent to shed enough light on its origins, so much so that the nation as a whole is facing a near-global backlash as a result of their exasperation with his own version of the iron curtain.
While China’s exports around the world have taken a massive hit amounting to the loss of many, many billions, he has still not come forward, and his actions are still heavily criticised, even as the virus continues to mutate and destroy. To highlight the impact of his actions on just one Chinese company with just one country, India’s ban of PubG games has caused the company to lose over $100 million a year in revenues from India alone. Now extrapolate that too across the world, and the scale ought to shock anybody!