Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The (arrest? of the) Beautiful (at the) Game

The latest ambush marketing news to come out of the football World Cup (and no this blog does not only cover the World Cup) is that a group of female fans wearing skimpy, tight fitting orange dresses were allegedly detained/removed/arrested (depending on which report you read) during Monday's game between Holland and Denmark for allegedly being involved in ambush marketing activities for Dutch brewery Bavaria.

There is no shortage of reading material here - see for eg - Google's "Fifa detains blondes". Bavaria of course have a history of taking Fifa on (a similar, not-quite-so-sexy incident involving leiderhosen occurred in 2006). This time though the "offending orange outfits" apparently did not bear telltale logos and it is not clear to what extent Bavaria were involved other than by giving the outfits away. The incident also took place during a game when partisan Dutch would also have been clad in bright orange. To avoid being naive though you may wish to consider Bavaria's advert "Check De DutchDress Commercial" before taking a view on whether this was innocent co-incidence or a very well conceived and, aided by Fifa, effective marketing ploy.

Perhaps the most compelling piece from a marketing perspective is contained under the headline "Sorry Budweiser, Fifa just sold a boatload of beer for your competitor".

The question of whether Fifa acted lawfully is dependant on a number of factors such as - was the detention/arrest/questioning/removal (depending on which it was) of the women within the powers of the "Fifa police"? If so, did they follow due process which includes having regard to the womens' right to dignity, freedom and privacy? Were the activities of the women "ambush marketing" within the very broad definitions of the by-laws and/or Acts eg S15 Merchandise Marks Act? Were the activities of the Bavaria Brewery ambush marketing - did they simply give away the dresses or did they do more eg fund and plan the trip to RSA - or was this a group of supporters who simply got together and decided to dress up for the fun of it or to mimic the girls on the Bavaria advert (must have been pretty cold if it was)? Could the ambush marketing legislation withstand an attack on constitutional grounds?

Lawful or not, apart from the press, is anyone going to take Fifa on? Will Fifa take this further - unlikely? Fifa are apparently going to file criminal complaints.

And...will Robbie Earle get his job back?

Oh ... and Holland won 2-0 ....just in case anyone is interested.


Anonymous said...

Even assuming that this was an orchestrated ambush marketing exercise, where is the contravention of s15A of the MMA? S15A refers to use of a 'trade mark' - what's the trade mark? The colour orange? Seriously?! And all the other orange-wearing Dutch supporters? What about the fact that the association between the colour orange and Bavaria arises as a result of advertising outside SA? Honestly, I would not have recognised this as a marketing campaign if it were not for FIFA's own conduct. Hey, Bud, ask for your money back!

Charon said...

Thanks for the post, nice and useful! Keep it up!