PtG Article 21.06.2010

Bavaria beer ambush

By FIFA standards Bavaria beer participated in ambush marketing in a first round World Cup match up between the Netherlands and Denmark.

According to Post Advertising, 36 ladies infiltrated the match each wearing matching orange mini dresses and all sat together in the same section within view of TV cameras. After the first half where the ladies made themselves very noticeable FIFA took action and ejected the women from the match.

Forbes stated that after being ejected the women were held for four hours and questioned by FIFA officials. According to Post Advertising, “The dresses were sold as part of a supposed gift pack by the beer brand, and no obvious ties to the company were visible”.

Originally all the women were released without charges. However, days later two of the women who are believed to be the organizers working for Bavaria were arrested. Independent Online said, “They are facing charges of contravention of South Africa’s Merchandise Marks Act of 1941 and the contravention of two sections of the Special Measures Regulations”.

Severity growing

The scandal has ushered in the participation of both the Dutch and South African governments. According to Independent Online the arrests prompted the Dutch Foreign Minister to contact the South African ambassador to indicate “That the charges and the arrest of these two woman were disproportionate and not correct”. The Dutch representative also stated, “If South Africa and FIFA want to tackle a company over illegal advertising, they should take legal action against the company and not against two ordinary citizens who walked around in orange outfits”.

USA Today explained that approximately 30 percent of FIFA’s revenue comes from sponsorship. The official beer of the World Cup is Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser beer, a deal that the company dished out millions of dollars for. That kind of profit stemming from sponsors is why FIFA has reacted so swiftly with charges against alleged Bavaria ambushers.

Bavaria has adamantly insisted they have done nothing wrong. Reuters cited an official release from Bavaria saying, “There is no way FIFA can hold these ladies responsible for their attendance at the match in their Dutch dress in Soccer City and Bavaria is currently doing everything in their power to assist the arrested Dutch ladies”.

Denying involvement

Meanwhile Budweiser has tried to shy away from the situation. According to Sports City Budweiser said, “FIFA did apprise us of the situation as part of their regular sponsor communications after the incident was handled. We had nothing to do with FIFA’s decision to remove these women from the stadium or the steps taken afterwards. Please understand that our position as a sponsor of the World Cup does not give us such decision-making authority”.

Forbes believes that FIFA has done itself more damage by handing Bavaria free publicity. They believe that FIFA erred by being “heavy-handed with the women”, which in turn gave the accused a story to tell the media.

According to Independent Online the legal representatives provided by Bavaria to the two women, negotiated and paid for R10,000 bail for each of the women. The accused are due back in court on June 22.

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