Branding the World of Sports

FIFA going overboard in prosecution of ambush marketer

Posted by ZA on June 18, 2010

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa FIFA is attempting to send a message to businesses around the world – “Don’t mess with our event or our sponsors”.  It is not surprising that FIFA is working so hard to control their event, what is surprising is the extend they are willing to go to.

In this case, FIFA is reported to be seeking criminal charges against two ladies who were involved in Bavaria beers attempted ambush marketing at the Holland versus Denmark game.  The women were the alleged organizers of 36 young ladies who showed up at the match wearing orange mini-dresses.  The eye-catching orange dresses were the same color as Bavaria beer, although they did not have any recognizable marks from the Dutch beer company.  Two of the women in the group have been arrested and scheduled to appear in South African court.  They are charged with violating the new (for 2010 World Cup) “contravening the South African Merchandise Marks Act”, which was passed by the government on behalf of FIFA.  In addition, FIFA is said to be filing civil charges against Bavaria.

I get it, FIFA wants to scare off other potential ambush marketers by taking an aggressive stance now.  But FIFA appears to be overzealous in their attack on these two young ladies from Holland.  If they are convicted to serve time in a South African jail, then FIFA and the sponsor they are protecting (Budweiser) are both going to look like huge bullies.  I doubt FIFA cares if they are labeled a bully, but I’m sure Bud cares because they don’t want their multi-million dollar sponsorship to potentially turn consumers against them.  So far Budweiser has remained mum on this matter, but at this point I would expect someone at A-B to give FIFA a call and ask them to lighten up on this situation.

While I’m sure Budweiser is not pleased that Bavaria continues to pull off ambush marketing stunts at events Bud sponsors, sending two young women to jail is going to look over-the-top and reflect poorly on Budweiser.  I know my opinion of Bud would be tarnished if they allow FIFA to push this criminal prosecution into jail time for the women involved.  I have no issue with FIFA bringing a civil suit against Bavaria, but I think that should be the extent of it.  Hopefully cooler heads prevail and the criminal matter is dismissed.

Update: The two Dutch women who faced prosecution in this matter had all charges dropped against them.  Read full story here.

One Response to “FIFA going overboard in prosecution of ambush marketer”

  1. Hello there! Great blog!
    You hit the nail on the head. Bud does not want this event to turn consumers against them and that is the point.
    I agree with FIFA, as in protecting their sponsors and partners marketing rights, but in this specific case, (we are talking about 2 women going to jail) it’s very much off the point and over zealous.
    I believe, now they learned their lesson, and the right attitude would be to lighten up and turn to Bavaria for executing this ambush marketing.
    Keep on the good work!

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