Chris Reed
Oct 8, 2012

Where does Chelsea FC’s tarnished brand leave Korean sponsor Samsung?

Picture the scene. Samsung CMO, Seoul, Korea, not a Caucasian insight, calls Chelsea FC Commercial Director and says “so John Terry’s been found guilty of calling a black player a f***ing black ...

Where does Chelsea FC’s tarnished brand leave Korean sponsor Samsung?

Picture the scene. Samsung CMO, Seoul, Korea, not a Caucasian insight, calls Chelsea FC Commercial Director and says “so John Terry’s been found guilty of calling a black player a f***ing black c*** in an insulting manner but is not apparently a racist, Ashley Cole is a liar covering for an alleged racist and being called “choc ice” by black players and your company secretary not only changed his story but covered for Ashley Cole to protect alleged racist John Terry? Of course we’ll renew our sponsorship with you for another couple of years”…..

Of course that conversation never happened and John Terry is apparently not a racist just guilty of calling a fellow black professional footballer a “f***ing black *c***” in an insulting way and trying to cover it up afterwards. If that’s not racist behavior Football Association exactly what is?

What are Samsung thinking though? They only recently, and while this whole Terry furore was going on may I remind you, renewed their sponsorship of Chelsea FC for another couple of years. They are a Korean brand. Most of their employees and I would say customers judging from their success in Asia are non-white.

Are they really ignorant of what has been going on or is commercial pragmatism/global exposure overruling brand values and marketing common sense? If they had an ounce of sensitivity and decency they would have pulled out of the sponsorship in protest at the lack of any disciplinary proceedings by Chelsea against, lets not forget, their club captain.

Chelsea FC like to say that they are not a racist club. Anyone found guilty of racial abuse on the terraces is banned for life as a Chelsea fan who abused former player Didier Drogba was earlier this year. They apparently have a zero tolerant view on racism….except of course for club captain as he’s clearly not a brand ambassador for the club!

They won’t make a stand and sack him because they know he and those who have covered for him to Cole and Club Secretary are too important to get rid of whereas a fan can easily be replaced……They also can get away with this kind of behaviour because sponsors like Samsung effectively are endorsing their actions.

Don't forget why brands sponsor football clubs like Chelsea. Global media exposure, brand and product association, interactiveopportunities - all tied into the brand which is the players which ultimately means Samsung are sponsoring John Terry. He is not an insignificant figure in the club, if he was I am sure he would no longer be with the club, he is the club captain.

What does this say of sponsors like Samsung who stand by the club? You remember all the sponsors that pulled their brands from sponsoring Tiger Woods when all he did was have an affair (I say all he did but compared to racist insults I think having an affair is a poor second when it comes brand association).

Does this mean that Samsung supports these racist insults and the way Chelsea have tried cover up the whole sorry episode while not having any disciplinary proceedings against Terry themselves? Just think for a minute. If you or I uttered these words in a workplace we would be fired and reported to the police. Terry appears untouchable from Chelsea’s sorry excuse for management.

Chelsea do have history of being associated with the British National Front. I remember many times when watching Newcastle play Chelsea in the old second division in the 80’s seeing Chelsea’s then all white fans with National Front flags, singing “no surrender to the IRA”, making monkey noises when a black Newcastle player touched the ball and throwing bananas at them.

That was their core support in London and you’re not telling me that they have all gone away or changed their views now. When they sing “we know what we are” in response to opposition fans singing “JohnTerry you know what you are” the rest of the country are not thinking “champions of Europe” as Chelsea fans mischieviously sing they are thinking “yes we know what you are, a club that supports a racist and we know what that makes you too”.

Where then does that leave sponsors like Samsung with that kind of negative association purveying itself across the world? Negative association in the other side of the sponsorship positive association coin.


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