World Cup Fans Lose Their Trousers Over Sports Promotion
By Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Network
John McEnroe asked the question decades ago when he exclaimed at a referee’s
call, “You CANNOT be serious???!!!”
Unfortunately, sponsors of major sporting events take themselves very seriously
indeed. The Dutch fans attending their football team’s World Cup match against
the Ivory Coast were penalized for wearing garish, bright orange trousers known
as lederhosen by making them strip before entering the stadium. FIFA officials
were not amused that they carried the name of a favorite Dutch beer, Bavaria.
Advertising for a product that conflicted with that of a sponsor (Budweiser
in this case) is absolutely not acceptable.
This is not the first sporting event where fans’ behavior has been dictated
by big companies with bigger advertising budgets:
At the cricket world cup in South Africa in 2003, stewards searched fans’ coolboxes
for fizzy drinks made by the sponsor’s rivals and one man was evicted for actually
drinking a can of someone else’s product.
At the 2004 Champions Trophy cricket tournament, fans were given a list of
drinks and snacks they could take onto the grounds.
A school event in Evans, Georgia, climaxed with a group photograph for which
all students wore branded Coca-Cola T-shirts. The single student who unveiled
a Pepsi shirt underneath, just as the camera clicked, was suspended.
An entire football team was fined in 2002 for wearing corporate logos on their
shirts from a major rival of a major sponsor.
This time, though, it was the big crowd that apparently caused the problem
by conducting what was deemed “ambush marketing.” FIFA says it has done nothing
wrong in making 1000 fans remove their trousers before supporting their team.
A spokesman said that visitors could wear their normal clothing or replica shirts
with or without advertising, irrespective of the manufacturer’s or sponsor’s
logo, a policy that apparently applied to “individuals,” not groups.
Moderator’s comment: Are these prohibitions self-defeating?
Or are advertisers entitled to ban rivals from events which would not take place
without their financial contribution?
The comedy American pundits on the Budweiser commercials
shown on British television have been accused this week of being the most annoying
people on our screens. One Guardian columnist vowed never to drink Budweiser
ever again, exhorting readers to follow suit. But they will probably be remembered
for years to come along with all the other high and low points that will be
repeated ad nauseam. Which might mean that the advertising budget was money
well spent after all. –
Bernice Hurst – Moderator