Hummel’s decision to tone down the details of Denmark’s World Cup kit in protest against Qatar’s human rights record was driven by the company’s desire to be seen as a purpose-driven brand, industry experts told Reuters on Thursday.
The Danish sportswear company released a red monochrome kit on Wednesday that camouflages its logo while also launching Denmark’s all-black third kit, which it said signified the “colour of mourning”.
The launch was met with mixed reviews, with some hailing the company for its stance and others dismissing it as a marketing stunt to boost sales ahead of a major tournament.
Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at SKEMA Business School, said Hummel had positioned itself as a brand that embodies a set of values.
“The values that Hummel seeks to communicate are north European liberal values… the brand felt it had to do something that went beyond what the others are doing in Qatar,” Chadwick told Reuters.
“But crucially it’s not a blank shirt. The Hummel name is still there… so it’s a middle way – a way of raising awareness and but at the same time targeting key audiences.”
Chadwick added that the messaging would resonate with millennials who may see the move as a brave one by a brand willing to speak up on serious issues.
Hummel, however, has drawn criticism for manufacturing in China – which produces over 30% of its apparel – Pakistan and Bangladesh, countries where concerns around human rights and labour laws have been flagged.
“We’re aware that some of these (countries) are also dealing with issues… on the other hand, we don’t believe that it is the right solution to stop our business as it’ll mean a lot of people would lose their jobs,” a Hummel spokesperson said.