Wow. It may have been tongue-in-cheek, but SKINS called it early.
Way back at the start of the new year, Jamie Fuller, chairman of SKINS, a line of athletic compression wear, posted a humorous blog, entitled, “Our official non-sponsorship of FIFA clearly makes the point.” The blog went on to outline “a tongue-in-cheek campaign with a serious message at its center – to support #NewFIFANow and rally behind the growing call for serious, long-term reform to the way FIFA governs world football.”
According to Reuters, the non-multi-million pound deal (SKINS is a company with an Australian founder) allows the company to “highlight unshared brand values and confirms SKINS’ contempt for an organization, which has been constantly shrouded in allegations of corruption and controversy.”
“I’m delighted this ongoing non-deal highlights all the values we don’t share with FIFA,” said Fuller. “It is an exciting non-association which will shine a light on the organization’s un-progressive stance, discredited values and all-around non-integrity.”
The blog went on to state that a key part of this non-initiative was a social activation ‘demanding football back,’ which encouraged supporters from across the world to show their desire for change. Fans were invited to lodge their own FIFA protest by logging on to www.officialnonsponsor.com and www.newFIFAnow.org, where they were then offered a series of non-sponsor opportunities including the chance to not win tickets to the next World Cup.
SKINS provided a non-sponsor style-guide for other brands to adopt as well as an eBay listing which ‘invited’ bids for ‘FIFA silence.’ It also offered up a full selection of limited edition, (non-available) transparent SKINS products.
The non-sponsor announcement actually coincided with the news of FIFA losing a series of big-name sponsors. Castrol, Continental Tyres and Johnson & Johnson had not renewed their deals and that news followed similar decisions from Sony and Emirates.
Fuller notes, “One of the aims of our Official Non-Sponsor campaign is for the ‘real’ sponsors of FIFA to appreciate the privileged position they occupy and understand that their money continues to enable those at FIFA and their actions. Our aim is not to have sponsors walk away but to have them pressure Sepp Blatter and FIFA until there is a reasonable level of governance in the organization, to be run not unlike any other large corporate, quasi-government institution or NGO.”
And even in the over-the-top humor, there was a sad element of truth.
“After a board discussion on the usual payments allegedly accepted by FIFA: $5 million, an opulent banquet or…a Picasso painting, we decided to not pay FIFA anything,” says Fuller. “But the main thing here isn't not giving them money; it’s about making football better. Making it a game free of corruption, lies and backhanders.”
It’s not just sarcasm, though. The company, which prides itself on promotion of the ‘true spirit of competition,’ has entered into anti-doping initiatives and also dropped sponsorship of an Australian rugby club caught breaking salary cap rules.
The original blog post, along with follow-up material, can be found here.