Anyone who listens to the radio knows that the National Football League’s Super Bowl has very strict rules about the use of its name.
Radio stations not aligned with the Super Bowl’s radio network for broadcast and have not paid for the right to use the name are not allowed to say “Super Bowl’’ in any advertising related to the game. They can sponsor watch parties and they can have contests, but they can’t say “Super Bowl’ in their advertising campaigns.
The same goes for other companies who want to take part in what has become a national holiday in America. Party on, just don’t say “Super Bowl.”
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Advertisers are treated the same way for the FIFA World Cup which got underway Thursday, June 12 and runs for a month. The latest Brazilian party has labels patched all over the South American country, and official advertisers adidas, Sony, Johnson & Johnson, and McDonald’s are key sponsors for the games.
But advertisers not aligned with the World Cup are still showing their love for the games, with soccer-related advertising that simply does not mention “World Cup.” Nike and Beats are two advertisers who have taken advantage of the worldwide interest in the game to advertise their products without violating the law.
And the law is pretty specific. Companies who have not paid part of the $404 million in international marketing rights cannot use the words “Brazil 2014” or any image of FIFA logos or the championship trophy. But unlike the NFL, which owns its product, no one owns the game of soccer, and the World Cup cannot attack an advertiser for showing soccer players in colorful jerseys playing the World’s Most Beautiful Game.
Which doesn’t mean they can’t keep an eye out for advertisers who cross the line. FIFA has an array of staffers who are monitoring advertising to make sure no non-sponsor is aligning itself with the tournament. FIFA has sued advertisers for wrongful use of its name in the past, and is likely to do so in the future if it can catch a perpetrator.
Perhaps the best ad taking advantage of the world’s four-year soccer binge comes from Nike, which shows a soccer pickup game between teens getting started. As the game progresses, the teens morph into some of the biggest names in soccer, who happen to be Nike representatives, players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Wayne Rooney.
It’s a four-minute homage to the love of soccer around the world, and includes cameos (if you can have cameos in a commercial) from Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and The Incredible Hulk from Marvel and the Avengers. It is a YouTube sensation, and it’s slick as can be.
If there is a problem with this approach, it is that the Nike video has to be sought out, but word of mouth being what it is today in the world of social media, that has not been a problem for the more than one million viewers of the video on YouTube.
Advertisers such as Nike will lose out from the viewing audience when the games are on broadcast channels. Game viewers will learn more about adidas than they ever knew.
But non-aligned advertisers, who chose not to sign up with FIFA or lost out in their bids to do so, are going to make hay in the next month, and it probably does not matter to the viewer whether the company paid to be marketed by the World Cup.
All they care about, at a time when soccer is once again King of the World as it is every four years, is that someone is trying to get their attention and using soccer to do it.