Cristiano Ronaldo, Coca-Cola, the privilege of saying no - and why none of this matters

Cristiano Ronaldo shunning bottles of Coca-Cola and urging people to drink water instead, predictably became a sensation.

Cristiano Ronaldo made waves after choosing to drink water instead of Coca-Cola. (Image: Twitter)

Cristiano Ronaldo shunning bottles of Coca-Cola in a Euro 2020 press conference and urging people to drink water instead, predictably became a sensation. In an era where things can easily go viral, Ronaldo – a person with massive social media presence – instantly became an internet sensation. What’s more, his snub prompted others to follow suit. It also led to a drop in Coca-Cola’s share value – and a drop in their market valuation. What’s more, the soft drink giants even had to put out a statement where they said that every person “has different choices”. The snub, as it was, clearly rattled them just a tad. But will this make any difference?

In a nutshell, no. Simply because these companies, as they currently stand, are just too big to fail.

Drop in a bucket

No, this does not mean Coca-Cola’s share and valuation issues are not a cause for concern. But this ignores one very basic stock market tenet – the prices are not fixed.

The share prices and market valuation can and will rebound. Ronaldo saying no to the soft drink takes little away from the fact that around the world, millions say yes to them – every single day.

Coca-Cola has been around for over 135 years now. People drink it, knowing full well it’s unhealthy. Ronaldo saying no to the drink might make a small dent in their image. But by and large, business will proceed as usual.

The fact that celebrities have been endorsing such products since forever doesn’t help their case. Again, everyone knows that celebrities only endorse products because they are paid to do so – not because they actually use or consume them.

Thus, for celebrities to now suddenly turn around and denounce such things – especially in an era where image managing for them has never been more important – does seem like convenint timing.

That being said, this isn’t to imply Ronaldo’s disdain for soft drinks isn’t legitimate – for it is. Yet, this same Ronaldo has in the past starred in Coca-Cola ads. His perennial rival Lionel Messi is a brand ambassador for Coke’s perennial rival Pepsi.

Which brings us to the next point of this tragi-comedy…

The stance of Cristiano Ronaldo = ultimate privilege

It’s no secret that Cristiano Ronaldo is well-off. Hell, his Juventus wages alone are enough to sustain him and his family for the rest of time. And that’s exactly his ultimate privilege in this case.

See, Ronaldo doesn’t need to advertise Coca-Cola. Indeed, his brand standing in the world is such that companies need him more than he does.

Thus, him saying no to Coke now isn’t a stand for what’s right – it comes across as a stand of convenience. He can refuse to give brands any air time because he is in a position to do so.

This is what makes athletes in general taking such stands get overly scrutinised. Most are quick to stand up for what’s right until it could affect their bottom line. With Ronaldo, he doesn’t need to care about his bottom line being affected.

Again, this is not to say his stance is wrong – discouraging people from having a clearly unhealthy product is worth lauding. But once again, it is worth asking why he chose now of all times to make that stand.

Because if he wanted to take a stand against fizzy drinks, surely turning down the Coca-Cola ad years ago would have been a better thing to do? Again, this is not a criticism – people can change their views or decisions over time.

One suspects, however, that it wasn’t in the best interests of Ronaldo to turn it down back then. Which brings us right back to the original point – it’s all about the money, honey.

Long term effects? Don’t count on it

People would doubtless like to believe that Ronaldo’s actions will have a long-term effect on the fizzy drinks industry. The reality, of course, is quite different.

As mentioned earlier, these brands are too big to fail. Again, one must never say never – but the chances of Coca-Cola and Pepsi going out of business over the actions of one man are about as likely as world peace being achieved overnight.

It isn’t just about the celebrities either. Because one Ronaldo shunning the drink doesn’t remove the thousands of famous names around the world who plug it for all its worth.

And the few people who Ronaldo convinced to move away from these drinks will be replaced tenfold in no time whatsoever. In short, the more things seem like they’ve changed, the likelier it is that they will indeed stay the same.




WRITTEN BY
Shayne Dias

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