Ritter Sport becomes “Ritter Mord”: Russia treats despite the war

Business with Russia
So much for good chocolate: when Ritter Sport becomes “Ritter Mord”.

Despite the war in Ukraine, Ritter Sport refuses to end its activities in Russia

© Marijan Murat / Picture Alliance

A wave of outrage has swept over German chocolate maker Ritter Sport – over its attitude towards Russia. A lesson for other companies.

By Bernd Ziesemer

A real shit storm against Ritter Sport is raging around the world on social media. And the destructive creativity of critics knows no bounds: “Carré. Practice. Bloody,” Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk tweeted. “Taste of war crimes”, “Knight Murder” or even more drastic “Putin’s shit”, added other Twitter users. The cause of the great excitement: the refusal of the German chocolate factory to stop its activities in Russia.

The wave of indignation hits a brand that has positioned itself as particularly responsible: “Really good for nature”, “Really good for people” and even “Really good by conviction”, this is how the group describes its purpose). In advertising and even in product development, Ritter Sport presents itself as a benefactor chocolate: Above all with offers for vegans, sustainable throughout the supply chain, a completely social enterprise. Even the rigid position on the Russian question is garnished by Ritter Sport with a touch of responsibility: for the poor cocoa farmers, who should particularly suffer if they withdraw.

Ritter Sport as a lesson for other companies

Precisely because the company has presented itself as the world champion of sustainability in the past, many people are now particularly outraged. The fact that many important competitors behave similarly to Ritter Sport does not reduce the level of criticism at all. We could also speak of disappointed love, which is now turning into quite a lot of hatred on the part of consumers. Because everyone feels: Even at Ritter Sport, the Russia issue is not about lofty principles, but about sales and profits. Even the subsequent promise to donate all profits from ongoing business with Russia to humanitarian organizations does not calm critics. You really can’t control such claims.

Ritter Sport can serve as a lesson to other companies: If you rise morally, you will fall especially low when in doubt. Over the past five years, many German companies have enthusiastically thrown themselves into the discussion of goals and presented them as special examples of sustainability. The old US motto – “Business of business is business” – is considered completely outdated. But in the new world of high morality, corporations also make themselves much more vulnerable. This applies above all to companies that serve end consumers as customers. For example, anyone who boasts of being environmentally exemplary is considered a bad greenwasher if caught dumping dirty water into rivers and lakes.

Too many German companies still see their goals as part of their marketing instead of implementing them throughout the company. They often get away with it. But in a crisis like the war in Ukraine, they really have to show their colors. And then it becomes clear what was just lip service and what really belongs to the substance of a business.

Note: This text was first published by our partner “Capital”.

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