* 41 pct of marketers said ambush marketing top concern
* If sponsorships not protected, deals devalued
* World Cup will generate $1.6 bln in '07-'10 sponsor revs
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, Sept 24 On a sunny day in June in
South Africa, three dozen women clad in identical flattering
orange dresses were ejected from a World Cup football match.
The offense: wearing dresses distributed by the company
competing with the sponsor of FIFA's quadrennial event.
Bavaria, a rival of World Cup sponsor Budweiser(ABI.BR),
sold hundreds of the dresses before the tournament. In what
FIFA believed was a coordinated action, the so-called "Bavaria
Babes" were accused of "ambush marketing," which is illegal in
Ambush marketing is the act of mounting a promotional
campaign to associate the company with a team, league or event
without paying for the privilege. It is believed to be the
biggest risk for advertisers seeking sponsorships at sporting
events, according to a survey released on Friday.
Some 41 percent of 228 respondents rated ambush marketing
their top concern, followed by counterfeit or knockoff
merchandise (29 percent) and improper behavior among top
athletes (27 percent). The survey of sports marketers was
conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.
"Ambush marketing poses a very odd fringe gray area threat
because it's not technically trespassing on a trademark," CMO
vice president Liz Miller told Reuters.
"It's not hijacking someone's brand. It's more like they're
hijacking the entire event," added Miller, whose group
represents more than 5,000 senior marketers.
Jeff Bliss, president of consultant Javelin Group and
former chief marketing officer of the 1994 World Cup, said in
the report, "We've come a long way, but there are a lot of
creative, ingenious people out there who can get around the
Organizations like FIFA, which runs the World Cup, and the
International Olympic Committee derive billions of dollars from
their sponsors, and want to stop the ambush marketing that
threatens that revenue.
The World Cup, for example, will generate $1.6 billion in
sponsorship revenue from 2007 to 2010, according to IEG, a unit
of advertising firm WPP Plc (WPP.L).
The weak U.S. economy has led some companies to turn to
ambush marketing at sporting events as a way to get their
message out in a less costly manner by avoiding sponsorship
fees, Miller said.
"Consumers don't care," Miller acknowledges. "They're not
walking through the stands saying, 'You know, I don't think
that they're the official sponsor.'"
As a result, sports sponsorships are not effective by
themselves. They must be combined with a broader marketing
strategy, including ads on television, the Internet,
cellphones, merchandising and promotions, respondents in the
"If (sponsors) raised their game, there wouldn't be any
room for ambushes," said Kim Skildum-Reid, a corporate
sponsorship strategist and owner of Power Sponsorship, in the
About 41 percent of survey respondents plan to integrate
their sports sponsorships with other forms of advertising,
while about a third are increasing merchandising and
promotions, and 30 percent are negotiating more comprehensive
And that fits with the way sponsorships are viewed today.
They need to demonstrate measurable sales gains by persuading
customers to buy a company's products, rather than the
conventional wisdom of just building a brand to boost sales.
Some 54 percent of respondents in the survey said sports
marketing programs are effective or somewhat successful, but 27
percent still acknowledged trouble in determining the value of
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Derek Caney)