–Susan Perera, Attorney

The World Cup has come to a close. Have you fallen into football withdrawal? Well don’t despair, I thought we could enjoy it a bit longer with a discussion of ambush marketing and some of the advertising campaigns that came out of this year’s championship.

Clearly, major sporting events are financed largely by sponsorships, which in turn, give sponsoring companies the opportunity to get some major face-time with fans. Sponsorship grants category exclusivity to one brand, allowing them to hold-off their competitors from associating with that event.

So if you have a major advertising budget, the question becomes do you sponsor, or do you ambush?

Whenever there is a major sporting event like the World Cup ambush ads begin to appear, bringing to mind the current sporting event without actually mentioning the event itself (or showing any protectable marks or images related to that event).   Most consumers are unaware they have been ambushed and the advertiser reaps the benefit of appearing to be a sponsor. Recent trends have moved towards higher protection of these major events; however, there is currently no legal recourse for a well-articulated ambush marketing campaign.

Nike, for example, has often chosen against sponsoring large sporting events, instead blazing the trail on how to execute an effective ambush marketing campaign. Nike has gotten away with its clever ads for years, but as discussed in my earlier post that isn’t the case for everyone who tries this method.

So, is this underhanded? Maybe. Is it creative? I’d have to say, yes.

Do you think the high price tag for sponsorships at the World Cup or Olympics justify greater legal protection? Does your answer depend on who’s sponsoring and who’s ambushing. What if it is two major companies like Coca-Cola (a FIFA Partner) and Pepsi (unaffiliated)?

Now, what about when FIFA Sponsor Budweiser is ambushed by 36 women in orange dresses promoting the Dutch beer Bavaria? Should small-budget companies be held-off from any and all advertising? What are your thoughts?

After the jump, take a look at the advertising campaigns of some of FIFA’s sponsors and come back tomorrow to see their ambushers’ advertisements.


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— Karen Brennan, Attorney

Well, even though the Vikings didn’t make it, I am still looking forward to the Super Bowl – for the commercials.  I am sure I am not alone in my excitement.  In fact, there are numerous Web sites dedicated to the best Super Bowl commercials, such as this one which chronicles

A brief study in how the Lion’s Tap could have had its burger and eaten it too.

I have to say, in the interest of full disclosure, I have an irrational love for the Lion’s Tap.

Ever since I worked in Eden Prairie back in the 1990s, I’ve been hooked. Fast forward the better part of a decade, put our family a cool 35 miles away in Shoreview, and we still find ourselves driving nearly an hour on special occasions to grab a burger.

That’s part of what made me so damn mad when I saw McDonald’s latest billboards. Who’s your patty? For Angus burgers? You’ve got to be kidding. Lion’s Tap is "my" patty, thank you very much! They’ve had the slogan on their tastefully tacky t-shirts for over four years.

I thought about it though. I know Lion’s Tap. But my guess is that only a small smattering of people do (perhaps 3-4% of the Twin Cities population if you were to survey). Who are they going to think came up with the slogan? And if they walked into Lion’s Tap tomorrow, who would you think was ripping off whom? That’s right. You guessed it.

It bugged me. I was a bit upset. I was ready to come to my restaurant’s defense.

Until they sued.

You can read more here, but the fact of the matter is that Lion’s Tap decided to run to the courts to remedy what is calls a trademark infringement case.

Here’s the problem, instead of coming off as the victim (which you could argue Lion’s Tap is), they come off as another coffee-in-the-crotch, show-me-the-money, lawsuit-happy opportunist. Just read some of the news stories and read some of the comments to see what I mean, here, here, and here.

Ick.

Let’s explore what Lion’s Tap "could have" done differently, and how it might have panned out.


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