#Sport: The digital battle between sponsors, rights holders and ambush marketers

Published 13 July 2017 | Authored by: Dan Smith

Digital media has transformed marketing, with global online advertising revenues predicted to exceed US$260 billion by 2020[1]. But the popularity of mobile, social media and digital media marketing generally has also opened up new fronts in the battle between rights-holders and ambush marketers.  And, in social media in particular, some of the most memorable advertising over recent Olympics, World Cups and other major sporting events, has often seemed to originate from unofficial sources.

What do we remember now from the last FIFA World Cup – the official sponsor campaigns or Snickers' response to Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini?[2]

In response to these new threats, rights-holders have looked to take steps to preserve the value in their official sponsorship packages.  The US Olympic Committee, in advance of Rio 2016, went so far as to warn non-sponsors, in correspondence, that they could not use #Rio2016 or #Team USA, share or retweet anything from official Olympic pages or reference any Olympic results. But it's questionable how effective such threats are, certainly when they appear to extend far beyond the legal recourse which is actually available.

So is it the case that official sponsors will, in practice, have to share the social media spotlight with their "unofficial" competitors?  And will that have a knock-on effect on the value rights-holders are able to recoup from their official sponsorship packages?  This article examines the contemporary battle lines between ambush marketers, rights holders and the law in the context of social media.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • How does the law combat ambush marketing in social media?

  • The use of intellectual property rights

  • Passing off, unfair competition, misleading advertising

  • Specific legislation for major events

  • Control over athletes

  • The practical difficulties of prevention and enforcement

  • Is the battle against ambush marketing in social media being lost? And what can rights holders do to regain the upper hand?

  • The future of ambush marketing

...to continue reading register here for free

 

LawInSport is an independent publisher used by sports lawyers, sports business executives and administrators, athletes and support personnel, academics and students to stay informed of the latest legal issues and developments from the world of sport. It is our mission to improve the accountability, transparency and standard of the administration and governance of sport and the understanding of the law.

Thank you for considering becoming a member of LawInSport, supporting independent media and the promotion well researched, reference and accessible legal information that contributes to greater transparency and accountability in the sport and legal sectors.

 


 

Related Articles

About the Author

Dan Smith

Dan Smith

Dan is Director, Head of Advertising Law at Gowling WLG. 

Dan has particular expertise in digital media, advising on social media campaigns, app development, contracts and rights management in the increasingly complex digital landscape and emerging issues such as those associated with native advertising, ad blocking, vlogging and live streaming via apps such as Periscope.

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

Official partners 

BASL
Soccerex Core Logo
SLA LOGO 1kpx
YRDA Logo2
SAC logo LawAccord

Copyright © LawInSport Limited 2010 - 2018. These pages contain general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. LawInSport is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.