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The Rules On Ambush Marketing For FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Friday, 23 September 2022 By Alex Kelham

The FIFA World Cup stimulates a frenzy of marketing activity – both official and unofficial. Qatar 2022 is unlikely to be any different.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup marked possibly the first time ambush marketing really made headlines in the UK. Bavaria beer’s stunt at the Netherlands’ first match of the tournament involved Dutch models dressed in orange seeking entry into a match disguised as Danish fans, only to reveal their promotional intent once the match began. This episode led to the South African authorities making arrests, as well as the sacking of the TV pundit Robbie Earle, who had apparently supplied the tickets to the girls: a media storm ensued.

The Brazil 2014 World Cup saw the rise of the ‘social’ ambush with numerous companies, including Spec Savers and Peperami, opportunistically posting jokes related to Luis Suarez biting the shoulder of Italian player Giorgio Chiellini. Meanwhile, Activia gave the world the most shared commercial through a clever, and no doubt expensive, ambush which culminated in a global-football themed video for Shakira’s song La-La-La. It featured some of the world’s highest profile players and encouraging public support for the World Food Programme’s school meals initiative.

At the Russia 2018 World Cup, some brands took a more edgy approach; with one campaign highlighting Russia’s poor stance on LGBT rights by donating £10k to an LGBT focused charity for every goal scored by Russia. Given the human rights issues that have been highlighted in Qatar, this sort of “political ambush” could be a trend that we see more of in 2022. We may also see more ambush of the teams, rather than the event. So, while this note focuses on the protections in place against ambush marketing of the event, remember that each team and their players will also have legal rights that can be asserted if a brand seeks to use their fame for advertising purposes without permission.


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Alex Kelham

Alex Kelham

Alex is the Head of Lewis Silkin’s Sport Business Group. Her work focuses on advising entities across the sports sector on a wide range of predominantly commercial and IP issues.

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