Ambush Marketing and Sports Events

Running-event company The Color Run, LLC filed suit last week against rival company My School Color Run, LLC for willful trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false designation of origin. Color Run asserts that My School Color Run’s similar name, branding, events, and apparel violate both federal and state law.

According to the complaint, My School

With the World Cup not yet over eyes have already turned to the Olympics in London in 2012. Only today, according to the BBC, Which?, the consumer body, criticised LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, over its deal with card firm Visa which prevents British sports fans using other credit cards to buy tickets and goods at Olympic venues.

Which? has been quoted as saying it is “outrageous” that British Olympic fans will not be able to pay for tickets by MasterCard or other cards or withdraw cash at any Olympic sites unless they have a card which runs on the Visa payment system. Outrageous is the right description in my view too. The issue of exclusivity deals such as this comes back to my earlier arguments about the dangers of overly aggressive enforcement of sponsors’ rights generally. It also raises questions over consumer rights, but from a marketing perspective, brands are in danger of damaging their reputation rather than enhancing it.Continue Reading The Olympics Exclusive Marketing and Sponsorship Debate Begins

Official sponsors of the World Cup call foul as yet another brand owner successfully pulls off an ambush marketing stunt. This week two Dutch women were arrested for organising 36 girls to appear scantily clad in orange to promote the Dutch brewery, Bavaria. Perhaps the brewery were hoping of a repeat of four years ago at the World Cup in Germany when scores of Dutch men were ordered to remove orange lederhosen bearing the name of Bavaria.

This event though is another example in a long list of companies making the most of the tournament’s huge marketing appeal. While official sponsors must of course be protected from such blatant ambush marketing, there is a concern that calls for yet more legal restrictions are disproportionate. (See our full Ad Guide on Ambush Marketing ). Existing law means that stunts such as the ones mentioned above can be stopped. The mere fact that 36 women identically dressed in orange managed to enter the stadium is a failure on the part of the organisers and not the law. Over-reacting and arresting the women in this case is also seen by consumers as heavy handed and only draws attention to the ambush marketer. However, being branded as an ambush marketer seeking to exploit rights without contributing to a major event is also not a good result for most reputable brands either.

However, more worrying for freedom of commercial expression and competition, is the alleged claim that FA sponsor, Mars, is threatening to sue Nestle over the current football-themed Kit Kat campaign. It is hard under UK law to see how such a case could succeed, though it is not helpful that Marketing Magazine suggest that Kit Kat has successfully hijacked the World Cup. Nevertheless it is difficult to see how a claim for passing off could be successful in the UK. Kit Kat has not used any of the World Cup logos or protected marks, nor does the campaign claim directly or indirectly that Kit Kat are sponsors. If such a marketing campaign were attempted however in the run up or during the 2012 Olympics, then the London Olympic Association Right  (LOAR) would mean LOCOG could stop the advertisements by virtue of a mere “association” with the event.Continue Reading World Cup Ambush Marketing Pandemonium and Implications for UK

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) launched their mascots for the 2012 Games this week. The mascots are one-eyed alien-type characters, designed specifically to appeal to children, thus reflecting the efforts made in the original London bid to focus on the legacy of encouraging children to participate in sport.

The Olympic mascot

The rising power of major events holders and an analysis of present laws, and regulations protecting modern day sponsors

Does a rugby post and the words “support English rugby” imply that Fullers was an official sponsor of the English rugby team? The Advertising Standards Agency thought not and did not uphold a complaint by The