Burger King allegedly spent $US1 million to include its mascot in Floyd Mayweather’s entourage during his boxing match against Manny Pacquiao last Saturday.
The fast-food chain’s costumed “King” escorted Mayweather to the boxing ring ahead of the fight.
It was an expensive and controversial endorsement for the company.
Mayweather been convicted of domestic abuse two times and spent time in jail. He became such a lightning rod for criticism in the weeks leading up to the fight that some people were calling for a boycott of the event.
“Brands have, for the most part, stayed away from Mayweather over the years precisely because of his public image,” Fortune’s Daniel Roberts reports. “He has three times in a row topped the Fortunate 50, our Sports Illustrated/Fortune athlete earnings list — all with zero outside endorsement deals.”
Hundreds of people slammed Burger King on social media for standing with Mayweather.
So why would the company pay so much money for such a risky association?
In response to that question, a Burger King spokesman told Fortune, “We don’t call him the King for nothing,” referring to its mascot. The spokesman declined further comment.
According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, Burger King “got over a week’s worth of publicity, just by sticking their mascot in the background of a shot at a high profile sporting event,” AdWeek’s Lost Remote reports.
Buzz around Burger King increased 1,343% on May 3, the day of the fight, compared to the previous day, according to the firm.
But it was mostly negative publicity.
Hundreds of people have slammed Burger King on social media for standing with Mayweather.
Has Burger King explained why they support a man convicted of domestic violence yet? Or tried to distance themselves from that taking place?
— Rob Engelsman (@rcengelsman) May 3, 2015
Burger King supports domestic violence, boycott Burger King!
— Ricksmith (@Ric_Moon) May 3, 2015