Ambush marketing on and off the pitch
Published on: 28 August 2014
by Ms. Roxana Sullivan, Attorney at Law at Dennemeyer & Associates, Chicago
The commercial opens - a sweeping view of the familiar Rio de Janeiro coastline and a conversation between Neymar Sr and his son, current Brazilian soccer star, Neymar Jr. “Today is another important day in our lives,” says Neymar Sr. What day is this? As Neymar Jr and other athletes go through their pre-game rituals: washing their feet, practicing with the soccer ball, praying, and of course, listening to music on their Beats By Dre headphones. The assumption is that this “important day” is the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but the commercial never mentions the event specifically.
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, specifically the Netherlands versus Denmark game, a group of three dozen young women were escorted out of the stadium and two were arrested. Why? The women violated the South African Contravention of Merchandise Act, a law that prohibited ambush marketing. They were part of the Bavaria, a Dutch beer company, campaign and were there dressed in matching orange dresses to promote the brand at one of the world’s largest sporting events.
Both marketing campaigns are examples of ambush marketing. The World Cup Law, passed in Brazil to govern the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and FIFA World Cup 2014, identifies these as “ambush marketing by association” and “ambush marketing by intrusion”.
The Brazilian World Cup Law defines ambush marketing by association as activities where a party utilises “trademarks, products or services, with the purpose of obtaining economic or marketing advantage, by means of direct or indirect association with [e]vents or [o]fficial [s]ymbols…”
Ambush marketing by intrusion refers to activities that are meant to attract public attention inside the official venues of events.
Recently, ambush marketing has appeared at a variety of sporting events, from the Olympic Games to World Cup matches, Super Bowls, and billboard advertisements around stadia. The purpose is to capitalise on the millions of people watching these events. According to Forbes, the 2014 FIFA World Cup was expected to attract the attention of 3.2 billion people worldwide. Forbes estimated that “with 64 matches and assuming that 3.2 billion people watch one entire game, the whole tournament will garner 770 billion minutes of attention”. These are valuable minutes and companies plan elaborate advertising campaigns to capture the attention of this broad audience.
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