A logo is a sacred thing in business. Consumers use them to identify trusted companies that make dependable products. When most of us see Adidas’s stripes or Hyundai’s slanted H, we think of quality. Not slave labor.
But Adidas and Hyundai — as well as Coca Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, Budweiser, and others — are all “proud sponsors” of FIFA. In 2010, the corrupt organization awarded the bid for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and since then, between 1,200 and 1,400 migrants helping build infrastructure for the event have died on the job. Aside from horrendous conditions, construction workers have claimed they’re paid wages so low that they’re often in debt to their employers, that their paychecks are often withheld, and that they’re not allowed to leave the country and go back home. FIFA knows all this and refuses to use its power to force Qatar into improving conditions. The companies who fund FIFA know it too.
Now, some designers are trying to effect change by hitting them where it hurts. As reported by The Independent, they’ve been redesigning sponsors’ logos to reflect their complicity in Qatar’s human rights abuses and posting the images on Reddit and Bored Panda. In place of Adidas’s recognizable stripes, we see a row of gravestones; instead of Huyndai’s H, a pair of shackled wrists. It’s hard to imagine such companies — which spend millions of dollars every year on marketing and corporate social responsibility — being too proud now.