FIFA, football’s global governing body will be filing civil proceedings in South Africa the beer brand Bavaria for “contravening the South African Merchandise Marks Act”.
The gimmick featured 36 beautiful blondes dressed in orange mini-dresses distributed free with the beer in Holland at the Holland-Denmark game on 14 June 2010. Hard to miss. Harder to miss will be the brickbats and controversy FIFA will be attracting for a seeming lack of positive humour for pressing the charges.
Yet FIFA is in a tough spot, as it is accountable to sponsors who have paid fortunes to ensure branding rights at the greatest Football event watched by millions worldwide, happening just once every four years. FIFA has explicit prohibitions against the promotion of any brands other than those of official sponsors’ during the World Cup games, whilst South Africa has passed laws protect FIFA accordingly. If FIFA is seen as lenient, it will be opening up a can of copycat worms as certain as toadstools after rain.
Despite the prosecutions, it would still be understandable for Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of the 2010 World Cup, to still be miffed at the Free Publicity the controversy has stirred for a non-sponsoring competitor. However, one can’t help feeling sympathy for the two supposed masterminds, Barbara Castelein and Minte Immy Niewpoort. They have had their passports confiscated, and released on 10,000 rand bail (SGD 1286), with a hearing in court on 22 June.
As is the nature of an ambush, anyone attempting such stunts should do them “smart and stealthy” and not get caught Orange-handed.
The irony of course is that if FIFA had not raised the flag on the matter, most people would not have noticed. In this case, however, the resultant controversy got Bavaria just where it wanted – in the News and in conversations worldwide.
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