FROM IRC NEWSLETTER, 21 JUNE

Cristiano Ronaldo’s removal last week of two Coca-Cola bottles during a Euro 2020 press conference resulted in a £4-billion fall in the drinks giant’s share price.  You’d better believe it!

The Portugal captain moved two Coke bottles away from him and out of the camera’s frame during a press conference in Budapest on Monday ahead of his country’s opening game against Hungary.

Ronaldo proceeded to hold up a bottle of water and said “Aqua”, (‘water’ in Spanish) in an apparent bid to encourage people to drink water instead of the world’s most popular soft drink.

Coca-Cola, one of the official sponsors of the tournament, saw its share price plummet from $56.10 to $55.22 straight after the 36-year-old’s gesture.

The market value of the drinks company dropped to $238bn from $242bn.

Following the saga, Ronaldo went on to score two goals in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Hungary to make him the record goal scorer at the European Championship finals.

By contrast a similar gesture by French midfielder Paul Pogba’s press conference on Tuesday actually boosted the sales of Heineken beer! Pogba, a practising Muslim, took a bottle of Heineken’s non-alcoholic 0.0 brand and put it at his feet, under the desk, when he sat down to speak to the media after he was named ‘Man of the Match’ in France’s 1-0 win over Germany.

The Heineken brewery’s shares were up 1.3 points on the day after Pogba’s gesture.

Said one commentator: “Ronaldo seemed annoyed, he shoved the bottles of Coke almost angrily aside and held up a bottle of water. Pogba seemed somewhat embarrassed, but by his actions many viewers would have thought he was only hiding it from view so he could drink it after the press conference!”

Uefa commented: “Coca-Cola offers a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament. This includes waters, isotonic sports drinks and juices, coffee and tea, as well as Coca-Cola.”

While the gargantuan influence of sports celebrities (any celebs by implication) on the collective psyche was well illustrated here, these incidents will probably lead to more and more prominent figures coming out against essentially non-healthy products in favour of perhaps more healthy or safer products for consumers.

French striker Kylian Mbappé, already worth an estimate $50-million and with the potential to become a Ronaldo-like figure, could see his net worth grow by a staggering rate.

Mbappé has chosen the “health” route, signing recently with Good Goût, a brand committed to raising healthier children. “I have come to understand the passion and energy Good Goût puts in to creating good, tasty, organic food for children. Their philosophy aligns very closely with mine and I’m excited about the future and inspiring kids to a healthier and happier life,” he said.

Mbappé is also involved with charity work. In 2018, he donated his World Cup winnings – more than US$500,000 – to Premiers de Cordée, which organises sporting events for children with disabilities.

Good Goût commented: “We’re hoping to create positive messages and social change!”

Russell Brand, who is arguably a better social commentator than he is a comedian, gave some insightful views in a video podcast published on Facebook.

Brand said: “Commercialism associates a product with a set of traits, values and ideas that are not connected with it. In the case of Coca-Cola, which is associated with youth, virility, energy and health – they are actually antithetical to those values.

“Coke’s value is conceptual. It is only valuable if we, or more importantly if Ronaldo, says it is! We (as humans) have the software of primates. We live in a fast-paced world in which we don’t have the time to be discerning.

“Ronaldo significantly affected a huge commercial enterprise by acknowledging the reality through gesture that Coke is not good for you.”

Brand touched on the power of the masses, in relation to things greater than soft drinks, and said: ‘Ronaldo has more power than other individuals through his genius as a footballer, but he is not more powerful than the whole community.

“If whole communities say, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore, I don’t want to be seen as a consumer, I don’t want my life to be a vessel for commerce, my head to be full of concepts that are given to me simply because it’s convenient for dominant members of cultural structures, then you can choose to bow out. You can disavow it, you can disconnect!

“Coca-Cola becomes worthless if you decide it is. More than that, nations, mortgage agreements (tax, etc) – all of these things can be changed, because they’re all held in place by somewhat fragile structures of faith and enforcement. Things are only valuable because they tell you it is, and you don’t deny it. Once you stop co-operating and stop participating, the value (of things) begin to dissipate.

“Reality, therefore, comes through, and is constructed by our imagination and our consensus. We can therefore imagine and consent to entirely different realities. We can create sports tournaments without commercialism and also different kinds of politics (and religion).

“The fragility of the membrane of reality can easily be punctured and exposed just by a single gesture!”

It looks, indeed, as if the world is ready for a Mass Awakening.

One sports star showed how close we are. – IRC.

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