Ad industry 'bullied' by FIFA

2010-03-26 12:50

Cape Town - Bullied and confused is how the group creative director for the advertising agency behind the doomed advert which raised the ire of FIFA feels.

"It is hard to navigate the waters when we have to pretend that the World Cup doesn't exist," said King James's Alistair King about the industry's ability to find creative ways to drum up excitement about the international tournament for their clients.

"What kulula is doing is challenging other airlines to bring their prices down. Ultimately this is good for FIFA because it will get more people travelling to games. It's bizarre," said King.

FIFA ordered that the advert, which featured images of vuvuzela's, soccer balls, Cape Town Stadium, a soccer player and the words "Unofficial carrier of the 'you-know-what'", be withdrawn citing trademark regulations.

King said the agency respected FIFA 's trademark rights, and consciously avoided using them in the advert, but that the widening scope of FIFA 's demands on adverting was worrying.


He denied that this was an attempt at hijacking the FIFA campaign.

Asked if he felt bullied, King said "Absolutely. Bullied and confused."

"2010? The year exists for everyone."

"You walk around and you see people wearing T-shirts with soccer balls on them, at a time like this everything is soccer. Is the whole country infringing on FIFA's trademark?"

King said they would "adjust" the advert. "But this doesn't mean it won't be clever."

Meanwhile, some have labelled the incident a coup for the advertising company and kulula.

"Success has already been achieved," said Eric Frank, a creative director at Jupiter Drawing Room who called the advert "brilliant".

"By the time these issues occur, the consumer has already seen the ad and many more will see it because of it."

 He said although trademark restrictions were normal in the industry, the way FIFA had implemented them was "quite draconian".

"They are totally inflexible. They should see the humorous side of it," said Frank.

He encouraged others in the industry to keep challenging the restrictions.

"We must always try to push the envelope and work around the restrictions," Frank said.

Ambush marketing

Responding to the latest advert, FIFA told News 24 that it was acceptable as it complies with South Africa's ambush marketing law. "The vast majority of companies co-operate with us once we contact them and matters are solved internally."

According to the body, it has had to deal with 400 cases related to ambush marketing and trademark infringement for this year's World Cup, three of which have ended up in the High Court.

One involved FIFA v Eastwood Tavern and was settled out of court by order; the second was against Metcash Trading and was decided in FIFA's favour; while the last is still pending.

According to a guide on FIFA's trademarks on, the following "official marks" are not to be used by entities that are not sponsors or rights holders:

• 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
• 2010 FIFA World Cup
• FIFA World Cup
• World Cup
• 2010 World Cup
• World Cup 2010
• South Africa 2010, SA 2010 or ZA 2010-03-19
• 2010 South Africa
• Football World Cup
• Soccer World Cup
• The logo
• And any combination of the terms mentioned above
• The World Cup emblem, mascot, posters, trophy

The world football governing body says any unauthorised use of the marks in promotions or adverts could threaten its funding structure.

"The FIFA rights holders will only invest in the 2010 FIFA World Cup if they are provided with this exclusivity for the use of the marks," it says.