This is, of course, not the first time the Dutch beer brand has tested the resolve of FIFA and its official partners. A similar stunt in Germany 2006 resulted in Dutch fans being stripped of their beer-branded lederhosen before they entered the stadium.
FIFA is now taking action. It is duty bound to protect the integrity of the tournament and to serve the interests (and investments) of its sponsor partners. If it fails to do this, it risks being undermined, and in doing so devalues the very brand that it has created.
Major sporting events will always attract ambush marketing from those seeking either an alternative association or just 15 minutes of brand fame. And, the bigger the event, the bigger the ambush. It comes with territory, whether welcomed or not (vuvuzelas spring to mind). But event and sponsor protection is required.
That said, official sponsors must work harder to inextricably link their brands with their sponsorship property; creatively engaging with their audience so that competitors see little value in trying to muscle in, no matter how bright their idea may be.
Jason Nicholas, Managing director, Billington Cartmell