Voices

Outvertising calls on brands to step up and speak up at World Cup

The independent voice for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and representation within the advertising and marketing industry has called on brands to step up.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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Outvertising has released a statement to call on brand owners and agencies to ‘stand by their LGBTQIA+ inclusive statements from just a few months ago’ at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The statement said: “This FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is a step backwards in football’s long path towards becoming an inclusive sport - with tournament host Qatar’s lack of human rights protections for migrant workers, women and LGBTQIA+ people.”

The statement points to research from the IPA, which revealed that consumers expect brands to take a stand on the tournament. The research revealed that half of consumers and two-thirds of young adults have more respect for brands who address issues around the FIFA World Cup being hosted in Qatar, than those who stay silent.

According to the survey, this desire for brands to take a stand is most keenly felt amongst young adults; with 63% of 18 to 34 year olds agreeing they would respect brands more for speaking out.

We ask brand owners and agencies to stand by their LGBTQIA+ inclusive statements from just a few months ago. With the platform you have during the tournament, allyship can be demonstrated and it can be powerful. For example, we commend England sponsor Lucozade for pulling their branding.

Outvertsing’s statement to brands and agencies on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Active allyship in action

Outvertising is calling on brands to ‘demonstrate active allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community. The statement explained: “We ask brand owners and agencies to stand by their LGBTQIA+ inclusive statements from just a few months ago. With the platform you have during the tournament, allyship can be demonstrated and it can be powerful. For example, we commend England sponsor Lucozade for pulling their branding.”

As well as urging brands to step up the statement offered support and advice for employees uncomfortable with working on the tournament. The statement read: “Employees must not feel in any way obligated to participate in, or tacitly endorse, work relating to the World Cup.”

It continued: “We ask anyone who is feeling pressured to do so to tell us. Employers must ensure employees do not feel outed by any such process. And if they need any support we would encourage people to reach out to the NABS (the advertising and media industry’s wellbeing charity) advice line 0800 707 6607.” 

This year’s tournament has fast become a toxic brand platform. Yet despite the fact Qatar’s catastrophic human rights record is well known, the past weeks have seen marketers scrambling to respond. From generic football messaging to removing the host nation’s name from marketing materials official sponsors have failed to take a unified response. 

The result is a hotchpotch of approaches, from both sponsors and non sponsors. These include sidestepping the issue altogether, to Brewdog deciding to be an anti-sponsor. An approach which has been described as ‘lacking emotional intelligence.’                         

A toxic tournament

Outvertising’s statement is released following the move not to wear the ‘One Love’ armbands for fear of sanctions. (The English and Welsh Football Association’s had feared that players could be booked for wearing the armband, because it is not FIFA-approved kit.)

The Football Supporters’ Association, responded with a statement expressing it’s contempt for FIFA. Saying:  “Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance.”

The statement continued: “Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.”