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Published by: Carlos Maia
Date: December, 14 2022

The FIFA World Cup and ambush marketing.


On November 3, 2022 began the FIFA World Cup, one of the most important events for the world of sport on the entire planet. In addition to ensuring the attention of thousands of people, the World Cup is also a great setting for advertising campaigns.

Proof of this is that in the last match between Brazil vs. South Korea, TV Globo broke the audience record with the highest audience of the Qatar World Cup and the largest audience since the game against Belgium in the Russian Cup in 2018. According to the National Television Panel (PNT), Globo registered 53 points with 79% of the TVS connected to the station (growth of +253% or +38 points in relation to the time slot).¹

Incredibly this scenario can also be observed in other countries, such as Dutch TV, for example, where more than three-quarters (76.6%) of all people watching witnessed Cody Gakpo's goal in the 1-1 draw with Ecuador. This was the country's largest TV audience in 2022 and highest than any match during the 2018 World Cup.

Because of this immeasurable reach, the advertising in the World Cup moves billions in sponsorships and official partners of the event. However, many companies end up carrying out in this period what is called "ambush marketing".

Ambush marketing, also called ambush marketing, is an advertising strategy in which a company associates with a sponsored event or activity without having official sponsorship rights. Thus, companies that are not official sponsors of the event "piggyback" on the repercussion of the event for the promotion of their products and / or services, harming the official sponsors of the event and inducing the public to undue association.

As a result, the consumer is misled by the parasitic link to intellectual property rights held by official sponsors or by the person responsible for the event himself, such as, in the case of the World Cup, FIFA's intellectual property rights.

Ambush marketing can happen in two ways: by association or by intrusion.²

By Association: It is the unauthorized disclosure of brands, products or services aiming at economic advantage and / or advertising, through association with signs symbols of event or sports organization, which misleads the public to believe, erroneously, that there is endorsement or authorization by the event or sports organization.

By Intrusion: It is the unauthorized exposure of brands, products or services (including through promotional activities) in the places where the events take place, in order to take advantage of the attention dedicated to the event to attract clientele.

An illustrative case on the subject, among other available examples involving ambush marketing and World Cup, is the judgment by the Superior Court of Justice involving the CBF and a famous soft drink company. On this occasion, the possibility of association with the Brazilian National Team was confirmed through the imitation of its official shirt. Check out an important excerpt from this decision:

The responsibility established concretely stems from the elements already present in the case, which clearly reveal the context of the advertising campaign, which, although disguised, by using only approximate symbols, does not hesitate as to its objective: to refer the consumer of Coca-Cola to the image of the Brazilian football team or, in other words, to use the image whose rights are reserved to CBF to sell the product marketed by the applicant.

Thus, it is emphasized that as a direct consequence of the practice of ambush marketing, there is the violation of intellectual property rights of FIFA and the official sponsors of the event, and even practices of acts of unfair competition.

The official sponsors of the event and FIFA, if they identify the illegal practice, may take measures in the extrajudicial and administrative sphere, including opening a complaint with an injunction request before CONAR, as well as filing judicial measures to prevent the violation of their rights.

On the other hand, the advertiser, to avoid incurring this illegality, should check what are the intellectual property rights held by sports organizations, responsible for the transmission of the event, as well as consult legislation and manuals of intellectual property or even hire specialized advice for this purpose.

¹Available in https://www.lance.com.br/fora-de-campo/brasil-x-coreia-globo-registra-maior-audiencia-da-copa-do-mundo-2022.html

²OLIVEIRA, Leonardo Andreotti Paulo. Ambush marketing: "origin, history and mechanisms to combat commercial ambushes at the IOC Olympic Games and FIFA World Cups." São Paulo, Latin Quarter, 2014.

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