Will Formula 1’s decision to stage the Bahrain Grand Prix come back to haunt them?
The decision by Bernie Eccleston to hold Formula 1 in Bahrain will do untold damage to the F1 brand reputation and standing to be held in a country where human rights campaigners and people who have demonstrated peacefully are languishing in prisons or in hospitals.
It is a well documented fact that Bahraini doctors were tortured for treating innocent demonstrators who were shot by foreign troops, which the government brought in from Saudi & the UAE to suppress the demonstrations by the deprived native population.
Imagine how the majority of Bahraini citizens and consumers would feel about brands taking part in a race, which appeals to the minority who oppress them.
Brands such as Macdonald, Burger King, Nike, KDD, Pepsi, Coke, KFC, P&G had been boycotted in the Middle East by Arab young people and had seen their sales nosedive following ill-judged decisions by brands insensitive to the consumers they rely on.
The cartoons against prophet Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper saw Arla Foods $550 million sales in the Arab world collapse in a matter of weeks.
Brands can exert more pressure on F1 to switch to a different destination or risk been despised by the Arab population (Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Yemen and many more) which despise the actions of the Bahrain government against its people.
International Brands will be well advised not to participate in the Bahrain F1 and be seen to be closer to their consumers rather than dictators.