Friday, 18 June 2010

Dutch courage

Bavaria beer has given the world another textbook example of how to use ambush marketing to best advantage – by making organisers angry enough to react. The vast majority of spectators and TV viewers would have had no idea that a group of pretty girls wearing orange minis at the Holland/Denmark game were anything more than enthusiastic Dutch supporters. But because of FIFA’s reaction, the whole world now knows about Bavaria beer, which is definitely NOT the official WC sponsor.
Reports conflict somewhat, but apparently the whole group was removed from the stadium. The two ringleaders have already appeared in the special world cup criminal court, where they were released on bail of R10 000 each (about $1200) and had to forfeit their passports. They face fines of up to R5 000 and a maximum of three years imprisonment for contravening s 15A of the South African Merchandise Marks Act. The Dutch ambassador has been involved, and the incident has been reported worldwide(also on IPKat here). Read more about it here.
Beer, soccer, or ambush marketing fans might remember that Bavaria pulled a similar stunt at the 2006 Soccer World Cup, where a group of Dutch men, wearing orange lederhosen, were forced to strip to their underwear before being allowed into the stadium. Comments posted about the story indicate some regret that a similar fate was not visited on the current ambushers!


Anonymous said...

Can someone explain how the Merchandise Marks Act was contravened? What was the "trade mark" concerned?

MTPT said...

The trade mark concerned was BAVARIA - s.15A of the MMA creates a class of designable "Protected Events", criminalising the promotion of any mark in connection with a Protected Event without the permission of the organiser of the event.

Very similar to those daft Olympic symbol protection laws most countries now have, and my objection is the same - why should taxpayers massively subsidise brand owners via the criminal justice system where civil enforcement options already exist?

In the context of the questions reportedly being asked in South Africa about the cost of the World Cup and the lack of longer term economic benefits, I hope the South African press question how much South African taxpayers are going to subsidise FIFA and Budweiser by prosecuting these marketeers.

We've got all this to look forward to in the UK over the next two years!

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that there was no branding on the dresses, or at least that the BAVARIA mark was not sufficiently prominent to be seen (at least by TV viewers). If this understanding is correct, was there then any abuse of the BAVARIA mark?

Anonymous said...

This M&G article [] states that the charges relate to contravention of the regulations to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Special Measures Act of 2006. That Act prohibits possession of a "commercial object" and "unauthorised commercial activities" within designated areas. The definitions of both of those terms are exceptionally broad. On my reading, any branded T-shirt is a commercial object, and wearing such T-shirt constitutes commercial activity. [As I myself wore a branded T-shirt to a game, I am now apparently on the run from the law. I will hence remain anonymous!]