Marketing stunts are often fraught with danger.
They push boundaries and sometimes can be designed with the idea that any publicity is good publicity.
But surely executives at Italian powerhouse AC Milan are scratching their heads today.
They’ll be asking themselves why they allowed 11 actors – dressed as players – onto the famed San Siro pitch before a Serie A fixture against Carpi – and why they let them perform a bastardised version of the haka.
It was all a stunt for skincare brand Nivea, but the pre-match act has brought significant disgrace to the club.
The actors substituted some of the haka’s actions, instead feigning rubbing the sponsor’s skin scream on their face.
And as the farce played out, advertising boards around the stadium brandished the message: “Men, this is your ritual.”
Watch the video below
As the video suggests, the ‘haka’ – surely viewed as an offensive cultural misappropriation – was met by almost total indifference by the crowd.
Instead, it was just viewed as another sign of the way modern sport is dominated by the dollar.
Social media was particularly forthright in response.
AC Milan need to be deducted a good 30 points if not banned from football permanently after that pre match haka. Sickening.
— Jack Proctor (@Jproctor96) April 21, 2016
AC Milan appropriate the haka to promote skin cream. No shame. https://t.co/Uvwl4kEpnJ
— Ben Williams (@BenitoWill) April 21, 2016
One of the most disappointing things about the whole episode is that it was not just any football club who took part, or sold their soul, if you like.
It was AC Milan.
A club famous not just in Italy. Not just in Europe. But the world.
They’ve won 18 Italian titles, five Italian cups and been crowned champions of the world once.
Perhaps most impressively, they’ve won what is now the UEFA Champions League on seven occasions.
They are a famed, storied club, who play matches at one of the most iconic stadiums in football.
Yet chasing a quick dollar, or Euro to be precise, they dragged their name through the mud in one of sport’s most embarrassing sagas.
At least they got what they deserved.
AC Milan, sixth in the table, were held to a 0-0 draw by relegation-threatened Carpi.
‘To mimic it and bring it into ridicule is insulting’
Just last year, ex-England rugby star Matt Dawson starred in a video of a ‘hakarena’, which featured dance moves to La Macarena, as part of a promotion for clothing brand Jacamo.
The All Blacks were said to be seething about the video.
And Sir Pita Sharples, ex co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party told Fairfax at the time: “The haka is done as a way of honouring the enemy.
“It’s recognising the worth of the other side.
“If they’re doing to something to mock the haka, I think that’s pretty shameful.
“The haka is very meaningful to us.
“To mimic it and bring it into ridicule deliberately is, to me, insulting.”