Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Bafana Bafana ASA ruling: update from Roshana

Two mobile phone networks slugged it out recently at the Advertising Standards Authority during an appeal to the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee. MTN is the sponsor of an under-16 South African team, while Vodacom sponsors the national team, Bafana Bafana. MTN, when advertising the event it sponsored, captioned the advertisement 'Turning young men into Bafana Bafana'. Vodacom alleged that this contravened various articles of the ASA Code,including the ambush marketing prohibition in article 11.1.1 of Section10 of the Code, which states that no organisation other than the official sponsor may directly or by implication create an impression that its communications relate to a specific event or create an impression that they are the official sponsor of such an event. The ASA Directorate, while accepting that Bafana Bafana is the general term used when referring to the men's soccer team, held that the use of these words was not strictly necessary in the advertisement, and could imply a connection between the team and MTN. for this reason, it ordered that the advertisement be withdrawn. On appeal, the Committee ruled that Vodacom did not have exclusive rights to the name Bafana Bafana, as the name is in general usage and can be used by competitors provided they do not contravene the sponsorship code. MTN did not breach the ambush marketing provisions of the code (quoted above) as it referred to its own sponsorship in the advertisement and did not imply a link to the respondent's sponsorship.

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