Tuesday, 5th June 2018

Why it's not a good idea to build your summer content plan around the football

‘Ambush marketing’ isn’t anything new. It’s been around for a long time. Some refer to it as ‘guerilla marketing’ while others just call it ‘piggybacking’. It all amounts to the same thing.  

Savvy PR managers and copywriters have long used topical subjects to sneakily promote their own products and client brands. However, the digital revolution of the last 15 years means this tactic has become even more prevalent. Let’s be honest who hasn’t jumped on the back of a trending topic on social media?  

As far back as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the authorities had begun to crack down on ‘ambush marketing’. This article from The Guardian demonstrates how the South African police took the ‘tactic’ as a criminal action and prosecuted: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/jun/16/fifa-world-cup-ambush-marketing  

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was no different, with the focus now very much on social media content and Peugeot facing criticism, at the time, for its digital campaign #KickItToBrazil https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/peugeot-ties-facebook-kickittobrazil-campaign-denies-world-cup-ambush-plan/1284117  

Elsewhere, ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016, we saw the British Olympic Association (BOA) flex its muscles (no pun intended!) to ensure that its lucrative commercial partnership agreements were fully protected by enforcing Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter. This states that athletes should only interact with official brands, but also that non-Olympic partners should not use ambush marketing tactics for their own gain https://www.teamgb.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/default-document-library/rule-40-guidelines-final.pdf?sfvrsn=2  

I even wrote a blog on it at the time which can be found here: http://www.nccreativegroup.com/blog/is-your-company-thinking-about-wishing-mo-farah-good-luck-in-the-olympic-games-in-rio-think-again  

So with all that in mind, what’s the score (okay that pun was intended!) ahead of the biggest football tournament in the world this summer in Russia? Well unsurprisingly FIFA has its own set of marketing rules and regulations. Which can be found here: https://resources.fifa.com/image/upload/media-and-marketing-regulations-for-the-2018-fifa-world-cup-2922838.pdf?cloudid=dbibgs0syrpkdbzbgbxr  

One of the key takeaway paragraphs of this extensive document is point 4.1. namely that:

“Except as explicitly otherwise set forth in these Media and Marketing Regulations, no Participating Member Association or Non-Participating Member Association is entitled to directly or indirectly exploit or in any manner use any Media Rights, Marketing Rights, Intellectual Property Rights (including the Competition Marks) and/or any other commercial or other rights and opportunities (including any title and interest in, and to, the Competition or the respective part thereof including all Final Competition Matches and all ancillary events organised in connection with the Final Competition) whether currently existing or created in the future.”

The document also goes on to state that no affiliate or third party shall without permission:

  1.  Utilise competition trademarks or logos 

  2. Create, produce, record or exploit film or photo in association

  3. Exploit any approved marketing or advertising collateral

  4. Create any associated merchandise

  5. Use competition names in URLs or digital mediums

Clearly there are many organisations that will be naïve to these restrictions, while others may just choose to ignore them completely. However, the chances are if they do they could well face prosecution.

Some content specialists will no doubt look to exploit the potential ‘grey areas,’ perhaps focusing on the sport of football with no clear reference to any particular team or trademark. It’s possible that this could work, but it’s a risky initiative. The safest thing to do this summer is find another topic to build your content plan around, but if you do tie it into the football – be cautious. You’ve been warned!  

David Leatham

Content and Channel Director, NC Creative Group 

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