Friday, June 18, 2010

Newsy: Bavaria Brewhaha at World Cup

A Dutch brewery's World Cup publicity stunt has created controversy. But "ambush marketing" seems to work, much to the dismay of its detractors.
“36 women dressed as Danish fans entered the stadium, and then stripped off during the first half to reveal orange mini-dresses. So they looked like Dutch fans after that. They attracted so much attention that a FIFA official came to speak to them, and accused them of ambush marketing, for advertising a beer company that hadn’t paid for the right to be official FIFA World Cup sponsors.”
FIFA orders the arrest of three dozen women -- who’s only crime it seems -- was wearing the same colored dress, and catching the eyes of other fans. But FIFA says, a Dutch beer company paid the women to create a spectacle. And it’s not the first time.
We’re analyzing coverage of what’s being called -- ambush marketing -- from CNN, MarketingWeek, ITN, and The BBC. 
First to the stunt. CNN reports, the beer company, Bavaria, is considered to be a rival to Budweiser -- which actually paid for the rights to be an official sponsor. Bavaria paid to fly the 36 women to the game: “(Reporter) Can you understand why FIFA are protective about their sponsors. (Women) Of course yeah. We understand. There’s no brand on the dress. It’s an orange dress. I show you. There’s no brand, there’s no Bavaria on it. (Reporter) There’s a little label. So, that’s the only clue that you’re from a rival brewery company.”
Little tag or big -- MarketingWeek says, Bavaria has done this before -- for one simple reason: It works: “...over 1,000 Dutch fans wearing branded pants were denied entry to a Holland game during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The beer brand seems to have benefited from the publicity stunt...after the game and was the fifth most visited beer website in the UK on Tuesday.”
Because of that prior activity, Bavaria was on FIFA’s radar. On The Telegraph, a FIFA official says, this isn’t about what you wear to the games -- so, don’t play us for a fool: “There’s absolutely no issue with you going to the stadium wearing a shirt, or whatever, with a brand, or a competitive brand to a partner here. There’s absolutely no issue whatsoever. What is an issue, is when there is a clear reasoning behind, or action behind, which is an ambush marketing actitivity. That’s all.”
All 36 women were arrested, but two have been held by South African police for a prolonged period of time. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen (Vare-hagen) tells the BBC, the criminal charges were "disproportionate" to the crime.
"It is outrageous that the two women have a jail term hanging over their heads ... If South Africa or Fifa wants to take a company to task for an illegal marketing action, they should start judicial procedures against the company..."
So, what do you think? Is FIFA going overboard here to protect its sponsors? Or, is the crackdown legitimate?

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