The South Africa 2010 World Cup must have seemed like a golden opportunity for South African fruit growers looking to market their produce to the UK market. But will FIFA upset their apple-cart? Nick Johnson gets to the core of the action.
Topic: Ambush marketing
Who: South African government, South African Fruit, FIFA
Where: South Africa
When: March 2010
Law stated as at: 24 March 2010
FIFA has challenged an unofficial 2010 World Cup promotion partly funded by the South African government.
The activity, targeted at promoting South African fruits to the UK market, offers a prize of a holiday to South Africa. PR materials and the previous URL of the promotion website (www.beautifulcountrybeautifulfruit.com/offers/win-2-tickets-to-the-world-cup) suggested that the prize also included match tickets for the World Cup.
In fact, the prize includes £5,000 “spending money” for the winner. The site suggests this can be used to buy tickets.
FIFA say the activity infringes anti-ambush marketing rules, and that they are “looking into this”.
Why this matters:
The promotion URL has already changed to:
www.beautifulcountrybeautifulfruit.com/offers/experience-the-magic-of-the-world-cup.html. But will South African Fruit’s changes be sufficient to stave off legal action and save the promotion?
Offering tickets as prizes would no doubt be argued by FIFA to breach ticket terms and conditions. In the UK it would also expose the marketers to the risk of criminal prosecution under broadly drafted anti-touting legislation (the Ticket Touting (Designation of Football Matches) Order 2007 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).
But even without offering tickets as prizes, the fruit marketers’ promotion may be at risk of challenge under South Africa’s specific anti-ambush marketing legislation – the Merchandising Marks Act. This prohibits non-sponsors from obtaining special promotional benefit from or associating themselves with protected events such as the 2010 World Cup. Breach of the legislation carries criminal penalties.