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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