Audio Transcription of Interview on Classic FM on 10 July 2006; Ambush Marketing

TONY BLEWITT:

Classic breakfast 102.7. Once again we are talking intellectual property with Spoor & Fisher. On the line now Dr Owen Dean from Spoor & Fisher and we are talking this morning… first of all, welcome Owen.

OWEN DEAN:

Morning Tony, thank you.

TONY BLEWITT:

We’re talking about ambush marketing. Now that the soccer world cup in Germany has been done and dusted, its gone. The baton for the staging of the 2010 FIFA world cup soccer tournament has formally been passed on to South Africa. What is likely to happen on the marketing front, do you think, in South Africa with ambush marketing in mind?

OWEN DEAN:

Well, the event which took place in Germany on Friday really marked the, sort of, starters gun for the South African world cup in 2010. What one can now expect is that official sponsorship will be finalised. We have heard that First National, for instance, are going to be a sponsor. I believe that sort of tempo is going to step up and with that the parasites will come along and ambush marketing is likely to take place as well as counterfeiting. I mean obviously the world cup is now going to increase substantially in the public eye and that is going to give rise to the parasites, as they say.

TONY BLEWITT:

Just expand a bit on ambush marketing, would you.

OWEN DEAN:

Ambush marketing is a term which is used to describe a situation where somebody who is not a sponsor of an event and is therefore not paying money to support the staging of the event, seeks to achieve the benefits which one would normally derive from sponsorship. In other words he seeks to ride on the back of the event without being a sponsor for it. It really takes two forms, one talks of ambush marketing by association and what happens there is where somebody takes the official logo or something which denotes the games and uses it as part of his marketing and associating itself with the event. The other form of ambush marketing and the one which is a little more insidious is known as intrusion. What happens there is, someone uses his own trade mark in a manner which lets that trade mark bask in the reflected glory of the world cup. A good example of this was some years ago with the Comrades Marathon where Reebok was a sponsor and Nike persuaded or paid some of the athletes to wear the Nike logo tattooed on their foreheads. So that when the television cameras picked them up Nike got this unpaid for exposure.

TONY BLEWITT:

Ja, they probably offered them a pair of shoes for that.

OWEN DEAN:

Probably.

TONY BLEWITT:

Anyhow, now how can sponsors and FIFA actually prevent this? How do you go about that?

OWEN DEAN:

Well, our law has in recent times become pretty jacked up in dealing with this issue. It was really put in place prior to the Cricket world cup and, interestingly enough, the fact that our law was well geared to deal with ambush marketing is something which weighed heavily in our favour in our bid for the soccer world cup. In short there are a number of legal remedies available. There is a provision in the Merchandise Marks Act which deals with abuse of trade marks, and that’s the most direct remedy. Then there is another facility for declaring marks prohibited marks under the Merchandise Marks Act, this is being done with all the logos and whatnot applicable to the 2010 tournament. FIFA has registered trade marks widely, they registered designs under the Designs Act. They have copyright in their logos and so forth, and even the common law comes to their protection. So they have quite an arsenal of weapons available at their disposal, but the most important one is the one dealt with under the heading of abuse of trade marks and in terms of this provision it is actually a criminal offence to use your own trade mark in a way which is calculated to achieve publicity for that trade mark and thereby give it special promotional benefit from the world cup. So any company that does that, in fact commits a criminal offence, which obviously as far as reputable companies are concerned, ought to be quite a considerable disincentive.

TONY BLEWITT:

What would your advice then finally be to South African marketers with regard to 2010?

OWEN DEAN: I think the first thing is that they should really take legal advice, because this is a minefield that they are treading into if they are seeking to derive some sort of benefit from the publicity associated with the world cup, as I have explained, criminal offences can be committed. The penalties are quite severe. The law provides that for a first offence, a fine of R5 000.00 per infringing article or imprisonment of three years per infringing article can be imposed, and for a further offence those penalties step up to R10 000.00 for each article or 5 years imprisonment for each article and they are accumulative, so you can go to prison and you can be fined. So you can appreciate the stakes are quite high.

TONY BLEWITT:

Obviously, well it is as we saw from the last world cup, I mean the worldwide audience, it is a phenomenal business machine, the beautiful game, there’s no doubt about it.

OWEN DEAN:

Undoubtedly.

TONY BLEWITT:

Ok, Dr Owen Dean, from Spoor & Fisher, thank you very much indeed for joining us this morning on Classic Breakfast.

OWEN DEAN:

You are most welcome.

Dr. Owen Dean

SPOOR & FISHER

Date published: 2007/07/10
Author: Dr Owen Dean

Tags: audio transcription interview classic fm ambush marketing