When rebrands go wrong

(And how to avoid the pitfalls)

FIFA hits back at Bavaria after ambush marketing stunt

FIFA has filed criminal charges against Dutch beer brand Bavaria for ambush marketing at a World Cup game on Monday (14 June).

Source: Getty Images

Football’s international governing body filed with the South African Police Service after 36 female supporters were ejected from the Holland v Denmark game for wearing orange mini-dresses that were believed to be part of a campaign for the brand. Two of the 36 were later arrested.

FIFA is very protective of the rights of sanctioned sponsors to market exclusively at World Cup games and has vowed to come down hard on rival brands’ attempts to highjack the tournament.

Budweiser is the official beer partner at this World Cup and has a major presence at all games.

Bavaria has a long history of gate crashing football tournaments. Previously, over a 1,000 Dutch fans wearing branded pants were denied entry to a Holland game during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The beer brand seems to have benefited from the publicity the stunt caused. According to Experian HitWise, the site received a “spike in traffic” after the game and was the fifth most visited beer website in the UK on Tuesday (15 June).

A FIFA spokeswoman says: “The latest target had been the Dutch national team itself, and the Dutch FA had already objected to the strategy employed by this brewery for ambush activities around the national team matches using the exact same promotional objects.”

Monday’s incident led to ITV firing football pundit Robbie Earle after it emerged that tickets he had been given for family and friends had been passed on to Bavaria.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Lots to look forward to as the lovely people at city hall close down London for 2012. I for one will be trying my hardest to ensure my clients get access to London and do so right under the noses of the council and olympic committee busy bodies. They have cut up the contracts to all the big boys so I see it as my mission in life to maximise exposure without official approval. I'll be paying for the thing for 10 years, the land is public and no brand should be able to demand exclusive access to any public land. FIFA have made themselves look like idiots of the highest calibre.

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  • Dear Anonymous @ 11:54 - you have a point - we still live in a free country. Re current event, unless the orange mini dresses were clearly logo'd or labelled with Bavaria then the grounds for FIFA's actions are tenuous - orange in universally known to be Holland's colour. Personally, as a bitter drinker, I find it quite incredible that 'Budweiser' is the official beer. You have to drink it ice cold to numb the taste buds so you don't taste the 'chemical' flavour.

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  • Just to add to my earlier comment. Everyone is talking about how great Nike is, how they have maximised their impact and presence at this year's world cup, poked fun at the key sponsors with their innovative TV ads...yet they aren't a sponsor. What's the difference? Budget? Kudos for the agencies involved? Because they did it out of reach of FIFA's questionable jurisdiction? Or, simply because they are a big brand? Comments welcome.

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