It’s been nine days since the Russians began their invasion of Ukraine and the path of destruction and the loss of live has been immense and shows no sign of abating any time soon.
The global outrage and condemnation of the invasion and the tactics deployed by the aggressor has reached fever point and everyone who opposes what is happening is making an effort – however big or small – to try and bring peace back to the region and to end the war.
From a brand and marketing perspective it has been heart- warming to see the industry come together and take action in an attempt to try and force Putin to stop the invasion by withdrawing, suspending and stopping Russian business and anything else that would help fund the Russian war effort.
The likes of Apple, Land Rover, Mastercard, IKEA, Mercedes, SAP, Nike, H&M, Spotify, Airbnb, Oracle have all either stopped doing business with Russia and its partner Belarus, or closed their offices, space and retail outlets in both countries, while Google has stopped any advertising from Russian businesses, while Netflix has reportedly halted production on four Russian projects, in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainians and in disgust against the invasion.
As well as this the industry has come together to use its resources such as Out of Home and social platforms to amplify messages of support for the Ukrainian people and help promote collections of food, clothing and other essentials for the estimated millions of refugees that are being displaced as a result of the invasion.
And the reaction doesn’t stop there as both football organisations FIFA and UEFA have thrown the Russian football team out of the World Cup qualifying picture and banned any Russian football team from competing in any European competition. This was swiftly followed by the International Olympic Committee banning all Russian athletes from competing in competition and in the Paralympic Winter Games, which start today.
It’s also been really interesting to see UEFA terminate its contract with Russian gas supplier Gazprom and for Manchester United to do likewise with its sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot. For the world of football – in this day and age – to put morale outrage above revenue is particularly pleasing and shows a human side of the game.
There were few more poignant scenes at the Etihad Stadium when Manchester City met Everton and the two Ukrainian players from either side embraced in the middle of the pitch at a stadium draped in the Ukrainian flag and the signage all turning blue and yellow. Politics is not often embraced in sport, but such is the horror of this current invasion nobody questioned it.
As with all wars there are the inevitable casualties and this battle is no different, but with all these brands taking such decisive action to try and economically cripple the Russian government and subsequently its war effort, there lots of innocent Russians who will suffer as a result of their leader intent on destroying a country.
From Russian sports stars to media businesses who rely on competing or trading globally and completely disagree with what their country’s leader is doing, the cost is high to both their careers and their opportunities to provide for their families and it will only get worse as the situation continues. However, it doesn’t matter how big or small your contribution Festival of Media urges the industry to continue doing what it can do to stop the war and push for peace.
What will be interesting is to see if this swift and decisive action will continue from brands against those countries performing evils around the world now and in the future.
Whatever anyone says there are no winners in war.