Orange Women Kicked out of World Cup 2010 by FIFA

Thursday, 17 June 2010

An Orange a Day Won’t Keep Fifa Officials away

bavaria-lederhosenPicture this; a group of beautiful women, glowing the colour orange, surrounded by a group of footballers and boisterous men.

Don’t be mistaken I am not talking about a night out with my fake tanned friends, I am talking about the latest ambush marketing stunt at the 2010 FIFA World Cup by Dutch beer company Bavaria!

It was not instantly obvious that the 36 women wearing tight figure hugging bright orange dresses at the World Cup game between Denmark and Holland on Monday 14th June 2010 were advertising for the Dutch Brewery.

(And let’s not forget ITV pundit Robbie Earle who is said to have provided Bavaria with the free tickets to the World Cup Match who has since been fired!)

The Cup’s authorised beer is Budweiser which pays millions for the sponsorship. The stunt went slightly wrong as not only were the women ejected by FIFA official stewards at half time. Two are now rumoured to be facing a jail sentence! It has also been revealed that FIFA has also started legal proceedings against the Dutch brewer.

Was it worth it?

Well the resulting publicity from the stunt has heightened the popularity and awareness of the brand. Ironically the publicity sought by the brands who undertake ambush techniques usually arises from the general public and / or official outcry and attempts to stop the activity from taking place. This actually further draws attention to the situation, which of course is exactly what the brands hope for.

Think, if the FIFA officials had ignored the women and let them stay for the whole match …But they didn’t and low and behold, the name Bavaria has been plastered all over the national press and if you perform a quick Google news search at the time for Bavaria beer there were pages of articles reporting on the incident.

Why Use Ambush Marketing?

Ambush Marketing is a term often frowned upon in industry circles. It is used to describe a marketing technique; often using guerrilla tactics that occurs around an event but does not involve a sponsorship fee to the event and annoyingly for the event organisers rarely breaks any laws so cannot be legally enforced.

A brand or company will abuse the publicity value of an event to gain an unfair publicity or marketing benefits despite having no financial or sponsorship involvement with the event.  For events with a large significance and a high profile such as the FIFA World Cup there are often a few selected sponsors who pay a huge fee to hold the exclusive rights. Details of the official World cup sponsors and partners can be found here:

But why did FIFA act this way

Well FIFA like many large world sporting event organisers takes its sponsors very seriously.  Understandable when over a third of their revenue comes from commercial sponsors. Budweiser is the official World Cup beer and have paid millions for this right. Therefore FIFA vigorously peruses anyone trying to associate themselves with the tournament – doing everything in their power to prevent other brands directly or indirectly associating themselves with the World Cup.

Sponsorship of major sporting events like the World Cup attracts large-scale publicity and is an effective and lucrative vehicle for the promotion of brands. Sponsorship is a million dollar business, and the fees paid for exclusive rights are the backbones of such events.  Ambush marketing undermines events integrity, so if FIFA simply ignore such stunts, the value of sponsorship will diminish and large commercial sponsors will remove Sports sponsorship from their marketing mixes. Without the financial backing of sponsors and partners there would be no World Cup.

A Win Lose Situation

The main issue surrounding sponsorship of events like the World Cup is that the less established brands and companies with a smaller international presence will wish to expose their brand on an international scope, that only such large events like the World Cup can promise, but may never be able to maximise from the opportunity as they do not have the budget to invest the millions of pounds that sponsorship contracts demand. What ambush activities gives such brands is a snippet of the World Cup benefits for a fraction (or at no cost) of the price tag.

The companies who make use of clever, creative tactics to get noticed and self associate themselves with such international events are by far the best in my eyes. Yet, brands must be weary. As highlighted in today’s G2 supplement of the Guardian, ambush marketing can seriously backfire. If brands are associating themselves with a sport like Football they need to be able to demonstrate a long term strategy and benefits, rather than a here today gone tomorrow approach. The brand’s values, credentials and meanings must share a parallel with the event in order to create the emotional attachment between the brand and the events stakeholders.

Not the First Year for Bavaria

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Bavaria beer also tried a similar tactic, making orange trousers the cult outfit by giving bright orange coloured lederhosen to Dutch football fans.  FIFA officials were not impressed and fans of the Netherlands were made to remove Bavaria Brewery’s orange trousers because Budweiser was the official beer sponsor. In one of the most surreal experiences reported, the stadium officials in Stuttgart made the supporters remove their Bavaria branded attire – leaving many to watch the game in their underpants!

I wonder why they didn’t get the women this year to remove their dresses instead of arresting them?

Ambush Highlights

Here are some notable events over the past years and Brands that embarked on Ambush Marketing techniques to get themselves noticed. Highlights include:

  • 1984 Olympics – Kodak sponsors TV broadcasts of the Olympic Games as well as the US track team despite Fujifilm being the official sponsor.
  • 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona – Nike sponsors press conferences with the US basketball team however Reebok were the official sponsor. During televised events and ceremonies the players covered up their Reebok logos.
  • One of the greatest ambush marketing stunts of all time is when Nike ambassador Michael Jordan, Mr Air Sponsorship himself, accepts the gold medal for basketball and covers up the Reebok logo on his shirt.
  • In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; sprinter Linford Christie wore contact lenses embossed with the Puma logo at the press conference preceding the 100 metres final. Reebok was the official sponsor of the game. How much Christie was paid for this is unknown.
  • During the 1996 Cricket World Cup – Pepsi ran a series of advertisements titled “nothing official about it”, whilst it was not directly attributable the message was covertly targeting the official sponsor Coca Cola – very clever.
  • In 2000 Sydney Olympics – Qantas Airlines’ slogan “The Spirit of Australia” sounds strikingly similar to the Games’ slogan “Share the Spirit.” despite Ansett Air being the official sponsor.
  • In 2008 Beijing Olympics – entire countries were tuned into the Opening Ceremonies, and worldwide, millions more saw former Olympic gymnast Li Ning light the torch and learned that he owns a shoe company with the same name, a direct rival of Adidas and quite famous in China, but not an official Olympic sponsor.
  • 2010 Super Bowl XLIV – Canadian gay dating site ManCrunch is accused of ambush marketing when it submits a controversial advertisement to CBS for air during the game. The theory is that ManCrunch produced the ad knowing that it would never be accepted and hoped the controversy would drum up the intended attention without having to pay the nearly US$3,000,000 price for an advertisement during the game.