Monday, July 12, 2010

Ambushing The World Cup

The World Cup was the most watched sporting event in the world this year, and a raft of big companies paid FIFA millions of dollars to be official sponsors.
Adidas spent an estimated $US351 million for the rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournaments. But based on several studies, it may want to reconsider paying to be a tournament sponsor in the future.
USA Today reported that Nike - not Adidas - was the brand most associated with the World Cup. The catch is that Nike had no official affiliation with the event at all! Nike opted to put the money it would have spent (if it had made a FIFA deal like Adidas did) into a well-timed global marketing campaign. Well, it sure fooled me!
Nike started its campaign a month before the tournament, initially releasing its 'Write The Future' ad on YouTube and getting more than 16 million hits! And as long as a brand doesn't try to pass itself off as a sponsor or use the FIFA or World Cup branding, it can essentially do what it wants. It's called "ambush marketing".
Nike wasn't the only company that skirted the line, between being accused by FIFA of ambush marketing and piggybacking on the world’s largest sporting event at no charge. Danish beer company Carlsberg marketed itself in the UK by association with the English national football team... while Budweiser paid big money to be the official World Cup beer. And Pepsi had deals with some top football players in the World Cup... yet Coke was an official sponsor (see both the Nike and Pepsi ads here).
Learning lessons from South Africa, New Zealand is planning laws to combat ambush marketing for the *yawn* 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2015 Cricket World Cup... ha, good luck!

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