Monday, 19 August 2013

Ambush Marketing and the World Cup 2022

Ambush marketing has been defined as "a marketing strategy that consists in a company hitching a ride on the back of the sponsor of a sports event whose programme of sponsorship is particularly ill conceived and/or poorly executed" (see Jean-Michel Marmayou "Major Sports Events: How to Prevent Ambush Marketing" African Sports Law and Business Bulletin, 1/2013). A good example of ambush marketing was the distribution of clothing by a Dutch brewery in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups ostensibly in the colours of the Dutch national team that just happened to be the same as those of the brewery (see Jon Kelly "How ambush marketing ambushed sport" 17 June 2009 BBC News Magazine). The brewery which had not sponsored the event got free TV advertising in the Netherlands much to the consternation of another brewery that had sponsored the event.

The mischief of ambush marketing, so it is said, is that it discourages sponsorship and thus increases the expense and risk of hosting the event.  At least that is the justification for the draconian legislation proposed by the Scottish government in its Consultation on Draft Glasgow Commonwealth Games (Trading and Advertising) (Scotland) Regulations 2013
"Games sponsors provide a vital source of funding for the Commonwealth Games, without which Scotland would not be able to host the Games."
My answer to that is that if it is true then maybe we should re-think the way sporting competitions are organized and consider less expensive ways of staging them (see my article "Olympics Association Right and London Olympics Association Right" 31 July 2012 NIPClaw in respect of the notorious London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and the far more strident criticism of Brian Perlanda in
"The Anti-Competitive Olympic Games" 1 July 2012 54 Orange County Lawyer, No 7, 32).

Nevertheless, we are where we are and the host city contract by which the Qatari Local Organizing Committee and each municipality hosting a match will contain clauses that would inhibit ambush marketing. That may well require special legislation in Qatar along the lines of the legislation for the London Olympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games. In his article "Qatar! 2022!" in Al-Tamini's Law Update for March 2011 Stephen Jiew wrote:
"It remains to be seen whether Qatar will be enacting legislation specific to the FIFA World Cup to combat ambush marketing as did South Africa as hosts in 2010. If past enforcement efforts are anything to go by, the following could be key features of the event organiser’s program in the combat ahead with ambush marketers:
  • Charge a special purpose vehicle with the authority to investigate and sue ambush marketers and infringers.
  • Embark on an education campaign on the basics of intellectual property and ambush marketing including advertisements in consumer and trade publications targeting the public, retailers, potential sponsors, suppliers, licensees and athlete agents.
  • Publicise legal actions filed alleging IP infringements.
  • Conduct market surveillance of unlicensed merchandise and infringements.
  • Put in place strict regulations at the official venues regulating the rules of entry such that non sponsor merchandise is banned.- See more at:"
The problem of ambush marketing and the response of host governments will be one of the many topics that we shall discuss at a conference on IP and sports that we plan to hold in London early in the new year. Though the immediate emphasis will be on Brazil as it is holding the World Cup next year and the Olympics in 2016 there will be lots to interest Qataris and others from the Gulf and indeed wider Middle East North Africa Area. If anyone wants to be involved in this project give me a ring on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or contact me through Facebook, Linkedin, twitter or Xing, or fill in my contact page.