LIGHTEN UP, FIFA
THE WORLD SOCCER BODY – Fifa – has spent years honing its strategies and methodologies, ensuring that nobody other than paid-up sponsors can benefit from any claimed association with the Soccer World Cup. That’s as it should be, many would say. After all, if you spend US$70m on sponsorship you don’t want any Johnny-come-lately creating the impression he’s the sponsor when he hasn’t paid a cent.
But Fifa’s defence of its commercial rights at times borders on the ridiculous. Metcash has been stopped from selling lollipops wrapped to look like a soccer ball. A Pretoria sports bar was barred from carrying World Cup signage on its roof.
By coming down heavily on minor offenders, Fifa seems to have put a damper on a whole host of activities run at the same time as the 2010 event, thereby undermining the economic spinoffs that are supposed to follow.
And it doesn’t stop the real professionals. In Germany, Lufthansa enjoyed more publicity spinoff from its 2006 Soccer World Cup than Emirates, the official airline sponsor. And a brilliant TV commercial for Pepsi created the impression it was the official soft drink sponsor without breaking a single regulation. So lighten up a little, Fifa.