Comedian John Oliver has been one of FIFA’s harshest critics, launching brutal takedowns of the allegedly corrupt international soccer body on more than one occasional on the HBA show he hosts, Last Week Tonight. On the show on Sunday, Oliver noted the irony of FIFA officials hiding behind sheets after being arrested at a hotel in Switzerland last week: “That is perfect because hotel sheets are very much like FIFA officials. They really should be clean, but they’re actually unspeakably filthy. And deep down, everybody knows that.”
Since Budweiser is one of FIFA’s biggest sponsors, Oliver promised to drink Bud Light Lime as a celebratory goof if FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned. “I will put my mouth where my mouth is and I will personally drink one of your disgusting items,” Oliver said. “I’m serious. It can be a Bud Light. I will even drink a Bud Light Lime, despite the fact that all the lime in the world can not disguise the fact that this tastes like a puddle beneath a Long John Silver’s dumpster.”
The “John Oliver Effect” has a history of drawing enormous attention to causes and questionable institutions, including the Miss America pageant, state lotteries, and beyond. When Blatter announced he was stepping down on Tuesday, Oliver followed through with a Tweet showing a bucket of Bud Light Lime and a single word: “Champagne…”
According to AdWeek, Blatter’s resignation, combined with Oliver’s gags, created a firestorm on social media. During the hour after Blatter’s announcement, Budweiser mentions on Twitter spiked 525%. Other FIFA sponsors saw immediate brand boosts on Twitter as well: Coca-Cola mentions nearly doubled, Visa rose 71%, and Adidas was up 53%.
In one way or another, FIFA sponsors said this week that they welcomed Blatter’s resignation. For instance, a McDonald’s statement said that the move represents a first step in “gaining back trust from fans worldwide.”
In the short run at least, Sepp’s resignation also gained McDonald’s, Bud, Adidas, and other FIFA sponsors a little extra attention for their brands.