Cunning entrepreneurs will be watched by FIFA
During sporting events attracting a lot of public attention, like the Olympic Games, European and World basketball or football championships, such statements as “the championship drink” can be heard in the advertising of various products, or the elements of championship symbols can be seen on the labels, etc., but such actions are not always correct and legitimate.
As the World Cup is approaching, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has already initiated legal actions against approximately 100 companies, which were using the trademarks without the consent of FIFA. While most of them are located in Brazil, where the most of various marketing campaigns related to this event takes place, but entrepreneurs anywhere may also find themselves in their spotlight.
Not only the use of symbols, but also attempts to associate the product with the event are prohibited
Direct or indirect use of trademarks, goods and services containing FIFA or the World Cup symbols: the championship logo and the word mark “Wold Cup 2014” (including its translation into Lithuanian), the official mascot, motto, the design element (a stylized green figure), the trophy (cup), the poster and the fans’ logo without the approval of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association is prohibited.
Often, entrepreneurs attempt to contrive and to circumvent the rules by using the so-called ambush marketing for the purpose of associating the product with a particular event without sponsoring that event or contributing to it. In other words, it means using the name of the event in order to attract the attention of consumers.
Such advertising campaigns were occurring repeatedly during football championships. For example, during the World Cup 2010, the Dutch beer company Bavaria (while the official sponsor of the championship was Budweiser) organized an advertising campaign in which 36 models, wearing orange symbols, ran to the field at the beginning of the match advertising Bavaria beer. For such an advertising campaign, FIFA took the latter company to court, but the case ended by a settlement agreement, which provided that Bavaria shall comply with FIFA commercial program until the end of 2022.
Ambush marketing is also used in Lithuania
As an example in Lithuania, the case may be mentioned, when during the European Basketball Championship 2011 Nike was the official sponsor of the Lithuanian team, and Champion was the official sponsor of the championship.
However, another well-known competing company distributing similar goods organised the campaign during the championship by driving a giant shoe simulating the company‘s products in a car trailer near the basketball arena, thus creating an association to the users that this trademark was associated with the Eurobasket 2011.
How to avoid crossing the red line?
If the mentioned or similar ambush marketing actions would be used in the context of the World Cup, the business entities attempting to benefit from the World Cup may face serious consequences. This does not mean that business enterprises can not use the words “football”, “champion”, “Brazil” etc. during the championship, but their use should not create an impression that the business entity is directly or indirectly related to the World Cup arranged by FIFA.