Robert Illidge, PR & Marketing Executive

Change is coming, for the next England game I will be sourcing Bavarian beer in place of the usual Budweiser or Corona, I may even treat myself to a nice Bavaria Premium Pils larger. All thanks to the somewhat heavy handed approach by FIFA in light of the recent ambush marketing campaign during the Holland v Denmark World Cup match.

This series of events raises one question in particular, why was football pundit and former Wimbledon player Robbie Earle allocated a substantial number of tickets to a relatively low key World Cup match? Especially when there are hundreds of South African football fans queuing daily for tickets, not to mention those from Holland and Denmark that were unable to obtain them.

Around thirty women entered the stadium in Denmarks colours but once inside stripped to reveal short orange dresses. FIFA officials ejected them at half time after they attracted so much attention, with two of the group being arrested for orchestrating the ambush marketing campaign. The charges? “unauthorised use of a trade mark at a protected event” and “entry into a designated area while in possession of a prohibited commercial object”. It’s hardly unsurprising that 30 attractive women dressed in orange dresses surrounded by Danish fans would attract attention.

The two women were each freed after paying 10,000 rand (£900) and surrendering their passports, according to South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo. They are due to appear back at Johannesburg Magistrates Court on June 22. FIFA are also looking into taking legal action against the Bavarian brewery.

South Africa introduced legislation to provide protection for FIFA’s sponsors including Budweiser, who have paid an estimated $1.2billion to be associated with the tournament. With sponsors providing a third of the revenue from the event protection it is seen as crucial to maintaining the value of the rights.

You may have noticed one particular sponsor advertising 3D televisions to the millions watching around the world and  ironically to the South African football fans in the stadiums, with unemployment at 25% and chronic levels of low income.

It’s good to see FIFA taking these events seriously and the SAPS remaining tight on crime, however if you watch the coverage they literally were orange dresses, lacking any kind of branding for the Bavarian brewery company in question.

Had FIFA officials allowed the women to enjoy the game, remain in the stadium or even cover up I very much doubt that you, me, or the rest of the world  would have been aware of the campaign.

Beer anyone?