The last six months have the tennis tour go on an indefinite break due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But in Roger Federer’s case there has been further trouble, as his knee injury required him to undergo two surgeries in the space of five months.
Despite this, the Swiss has found several ways to keep himself occupied. One of the main tasks he undertook was releasing his brand of shoes in collaboration with Swiss brand 'On'.
Roger Federer also recently gave an interview with Nicola Spirig and SRFSport, where he talked about a variety of subjects. But in a rather strange turn of events, Federer now finds himself embroiled in a controversy that revolves around his shoe label and its presence during the SRFSport interview.
Roger Federer and SRF accused of promoting a brand without due notice
SRFSport, Nicola Spirig, Olivier Borer and Roger Federer filmed the said interview in the early days of July, but the show was only broadcast a few days ago. The shoot was supposedly done around the same time that Federer launched his brand of shoes called ‘The Roger’.
The brand and Roger Federer were in the news once more lately, as the Swiss Olympic team chose 'On' to be one of their partners for the next eight years.
Many viewers of SRFSport, however, observed that the logo of ‘The Roger’ was prominently visible throughout the course of Federer's interview. This logo was on a wall which was right behind Roger Federer himself; whenever the camera focused on him, the logo took up a good portion of the screen space.
Another point noted by the viewers was that a model/replica of the shoes (The Roger) was stationed right beside the logo wall.
This in itself would ordinarily not have been an issue, as product placement is not barred on television. However, Switzerland's broadcast rule dictate that the audience must be informed of any brand promotion either at the beginning or end of the said program.
The Federal Office of Communication (Bakom) states that products that are on television must be integrated into the actual content by visual or aural means such as: “This show is sponsored by ….” Or “This show contains product placement by…”
The Roger Federer interview conducted by SRFSport did no such thing, which is why it is now facing criticism from several corners. Another dubious feature that caught the attention of many was that both Roger Federer and Nicola Spirig (Swiss Olympian) were sporting sneakers made by ‘On’.
What next for SRFSport and Roger Federer?
Since being informed of their alleged folly, SRF have made a couple of statements in their defence. They seem to have shifted the blame to the technical team for shooting incorrect angles of the show.
There has been no mention yet of Roger Federer himself either from SRF or ‘On’. The media channel said the following in their statement:
“SRF never intended to offer the shoe brand a platform. There was no agreement between SRF and the shoe manufacturer. The goal was that the shoe and the shoe brand should not be visible in the picture. However, not all camera settings were optimally selected.”
As of now, the Federal Office of Communication is going through the case and trying to ascertain whether SRF breached the provisions of product placement on primetime television. However, even from the end of Bakom there is no mention of Roger Federer yet.
It remains to be seen if and how the legendary Swiss gets himself out of the muddy waters with respect to this situation. After all, he is the co-owner of the shoe brand.Published 29 Jul 2020, 21:39 IST