Last week’s ambush marketing stunt at the World Cup by dutch beer Bavaria, featuring 36 blondes in orange mini-skirts, couldn’t really fail. And Fifa’s over the top reaction has only managed to raise awareness of the stunt and Bavaria’s brand at the same time.
I totally appreciate that Fifa’s partners pay millions of pounds to be officially associated with the World Cup, and as such partners would want to see Fifa doing something when another brand steams in for a freebie. However, wouldn’t it have been better for Fifa to have tried to keep a lid on this on after it happened? They could have been open and honest with partners to ensure they understood why they were not reacting to it. Sometimes I think it’s better to admit defeat and take the hit.
Fifa should have been on the lookout for Bavarias stunts at Netherland matches. Four years ago, in the last World Cup in Germany, Bavaria Beer employees were forced to strip down to their pants after stewards prevented them wearing their Bavaria-branded orange lederhosen.
Getting caught is all part of the strategy as it generates headlines. Bavaria has shot to worldwide fame on the back of its stunt, and for very little cost.
Putting more strigent rules and fines in place beforehand might help to stop stunts like the one we saw last week. New Zealand has passed laws to ban ambush marketing at the Rugby World Cup next year, and Britain is also ready for 2012. The London Olympic Games act says anyone found guilty of ambush marketing could face a £20,000 fine. Part of the act actually prohibits non-Olympic sponsors of using certain words like “gold” or “2012” around the time of the event, which I think is a little extreme. However, I still think we will see stunts taking place – £20,000 could be seen as a relatively small price to pay for global coverage if the idea pays off!
Personally, I would rather they didn’t put any of these rules in place! I love a good ambush stunt and I’m looking forward to thinking up some ideas for my clients for the Olympics. Time to get those creative juices flowing…