Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

South Africa 2010 World Cup: FIFA Wins Landmark 'Ambush Marketing' Case

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

South Africa 2010 World Cup: FIFA Wins Landmark 'Ambush Marketing' Case

Article excerpt

This year sees the FIFA World Cup taking place in South Africa - the first time in its history that it will be staged on the African Continent. This in itself is a landmark event; and another landmark event is the recent ruling of the Pretoria High Court in a high profile 'Ambush Marketing' case in the run up to the Tournament.

  'Ambush Marketing' is a form of unfair marketing and has been
  described as 'parasite marketing'. Others claim that it is clever
  and creative marketing and fair game! But what actually is 'Ambush

Basically, a company or firm claims an association, through advertising and consumer promotions, with a sports event, which it does not have, and, perhaps more importantly, for which it has not paid a penny. In such a case, the official sponsors do not get value for the considerable sums that they have expended on the particular sponsorship. 'Ambush Marketing' not only adversely affects official sponsors and undermines their sponsorships; it also dilutes the value and integrity of the sports events themselves, as well as causing confusion amongst consumers.

For further general information on this important topic of 'Ambush Marketing' and the corresponding 'Brand Protection Programmes,' see Chapter 11 by Ian Blackshaw in 'Sports Law' by Gardiner et al, 2006 Third Edition, Cavendish Publishing, London, ISBN 10: 1-85941-894-5.

Of course, the more popular and more global reach the sports event enjoys, the more it is likely to be the subject of attack from 'Ambush Marketers'! And, therefore, the more protection the organisers need to put in place to safeguard and defend their legitimate interests.

So, what are these interests and why, in the case of the World Cup, is it important for FIFA to fight 'Ambush Marketing'? What is the rationale? These questions have been very well answered by Dr Owen Dean, a partner and IP specialist in the leading South African Law Firm, Spoor and Fisher, and FIFA's legal adviser on these matters in relation to the 2010 World Cup:

  "The main objective of the Federation Internationale de Football
  Association (FIFA) for the 2010 World Cup Tournament is to make it
  a success not only for the players, the football fans and the game
  of soccer, but also from a financial point of view and in
  particular for the sponsors of the event. Sponsorship is an
  integral and essential part of a world cup tournament and without
  the funds provided by sponsors the enormous costs involved in
  running an event such as a Soccer World Cup could not be met. FIFA
  therefore sets itself the goal of giving its sponsors value for
  money so that sponsor will continue to support the event in the
  future and thus make it viable.

  When FIFA signs up a sponsor for a world cup tournament it
  undertakes to give that sponsor, and its sponsors in general,
  exclusivity in the use of the event as a platform to parade and
  promote their brands. More particularly, when FIFA signs up a
  sponsor which operates in a particular field, for instance
  providing credit card and other financial facilities, it commits
  itself to exclude that sponsor's competitors from using the event
  as a platform from which to promote their brands. It also assumes
  obligation to prevent all non-sponsors from seeking to gain
  promotional benefit from the event and thus from undermining the
  privilege which sponsors obtain from payment of the sponsorship

  In consequence it behoves FIFA to strictly control and police the
  use of the Soccer World Cup as a promotional platform. FIFA must
  ensure that non-sponsors do not ride on the back of the World Cup
  and bask in its limelight to the detriment of the sponsors. To
  this end FIFA has in the case of past Soccer World Cups pursued,
  and is actively pursuing in regard to the 2010 World Cup in South
  Africa, a rigorous rights enforcement program to curtail
  unauthorised use of the event for promotion purposes. … 
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