Markets in Everything, Except Shorts

by Kieran Healy on June 21, 2006

Wait, is this Marginal Revolution or something? Anyway, consider the following story:

Dutch fans are being handed orange shorts to watch the Argentina World Cup match if they wear trousers promoting a beer which is not the official sponsor. Up to 1,000 fans had to watch Friday’s game against Ivory Coast in underpants after being denied entry because they were wearing the orange lederhosen.

Fifa said a bid at “ambush” marketing – free publicity at the expense of official sponsors – was not allowed. But Dutch brewery Bavaria defended its decision to give away the lederhosen. It said no sponsors had the right to tell fans what to wear. American firm Anheuser Busch, maker of Budweiser beer, is among 15 companies to have paid up to $50m (£27m, 40m euros) each for the right to be an official partner at this World Cup.

Fifa spokesman Tom Houseman told the BBC News website that staff at the Ivory Coast match had been briefed in advance to look out for the trousers with Bavaria slogans and logo. Officials were instructed not to ask fans to remove the lederhosen if they had only underwear underneath, he said. “The idea of hundreds of fans removing their trousers is always potentially amusing, and our suspicion is that trousers were chosen as an ambush tool specifically because of the publicity that fans taking them off would generate,” he said.

“As a goodwill gesture this evening, I have provided gate staff tonight with piles of spare pairs of plain orange shorts should anybody require them.” Mr Houseman added that individual fans wearing items not made by the official World Cup sponsors need not worry about being turned away. Bavaria has defended its decision to give away the orange lederhosen with purchases of its beer. “I understand that Fifa has sponsors but you cannot tell people to strip off their lederhosen and force them to watch a game in their underpants,” Bavaria chairman Peer Swinkels told Reuters news agency. “That is going too far.”

I think your intuitions on this one would predict a lot about your views on IP law.

{ 24 comments }

1

pp 06.21.06 at 3:40 pm

I work for one of the “official partners” and we had to pay $75,000,000. Maybe we get two pitch side ads.

2

Tim McG 06.21.06 at 3:40 pm

Free orange lederhosen with purchase of beer? Sounds like the promised land to me! (Though my better half would disagree, I fear)

3

mpowell 06.21.06 at 4:04 pm

No kidding. I like this approach b/c advertising dollars are being spent on fans directly.

4

MattXIV 06.21.06 at 4:42 pm

The lederhosen ban probably would rest on this clause in the Terms and Conditions of the ticket sales:

“10. All promotional, commercial, political or religious items of whatever nature, including but not limited to, banners, signs, symbols and leaflets are prohibited and may not be brought into the Stadium if the OC reasonably believes that any such items may be used for display purposed within the Stadium.”

I think Fifa’s on shaky ground, since wearing shorts with a logo arguably doesn’t rise to the level of a display, but depending on the wording in the German version of the contract and how that term has been handled in German law, they may have a case.

5

A-Kon 06.21.06 at 4:44 pm

What’s next? Not being able to wear a Budweiser shirt at Coors Field? Ridiculous.

If the ‘offical’ sponsors wanted to get people to wear there stuff, they should have shelled out for free merchandise as well, or even paid people to wear it. It makes as much sense as paying $75M for a 2ft high billboard on the pitch.

6

Stuart 06.21.06 at 4:52 pm

Surely they went the wrong way about this – all they needed to do was instruct whoever is in charge of doing the camera work not to pick out anyone wearing commericial promotional material and it would have made very little difference (sure theres up to 60,000 people in the stadium, but then thats true of many regular football matches). They seem to successfully instruct them to pick out professional model ‘plants’ in the crowd according to Danny Baker’s observation in the Times the other day, and you would presume they can state quite clearly what terms the production team work under where it is important to their contracts with the sponsors.

7

Quo Vadis 06.21.06 at 5:14 pm

A good attempt at guerilla marketing – imaginative, effective, efficient. As long as the participants weren’t being compensated for actually wearing the pants as opposed to simply being given the pants and then asked to wear them, I would say the participants were expressing an opinion, not advertising. If the participants were otherwise compensated, they would be engaged in advertising and I would say the owners (private or public) of the property at which the event is held have a right to regulate advertising on their premises. I suppose there could be some grey areas, for instance if the participants were employees of the company.

I don’t really see an IP issue either way unless you regard the environment in which an event is held as IP, but I think that would be physical property, not intellectual property.

Personally, they’d have to pay me well to get me to wear beer pants.

8

harry b 06.21.06 at 5:36 pm

Why do so many people wear adevrtising on their clothes for free, that’s what I want to know?

9

Jack 06.21.06 at 5:51 pm

What does FIFA do with the money?

10

Emmanuel 06.21.06 at 6:04 pm

We’ve been here before :

“At the successful Sydney Olympics, stadium stewards went as far as confiscating Pepsi cans from spectators because Coca-Cola was an official sponsor. The Greek authorities have introduced similar measures at the behest of the International Olympic Committee.”

11

Christopher M 06.21.06 at 7:55 pm

And, of course, between a BBC story and a post on CT, the campaign has now succeeded regardless of what kind of leggings anyone wears or doesn’t wear to watch a soccer game. I’m kind of curious about this Bavaria beer now — aren’t you?

12

jim 06.21.06 at 8:31 pm

“I think your intuitions on this one would predict a lot about your views on IP law.”

Or about our views on massive sporting spectacles.

13

Rob 06.21.06 at 8:51 pm

Or maybe just reinforces the idea that FIFA makes the IOC look like pikers when it comes to fleecing the masses.

14

de Selby 06.22.06 at 1:09 am

A thousand Dutchmen in their underpants is unquestionably funnier than millions of Americans in their stocking feet.

It’s a small victory for America, considering the relative humoristic firepower of underwear vs sox, but these days, we take what we can get.

15

Backword Dave 06.22.06 at 3:45 am

FIFA should fcuk themselves.

16

Oskar Shapley 06.22.06 at 3:53 am

The next step: companies will pay fans (or they employees) to show up and line up in special t-shirts, one letter per shirt. F_O_R_D, etc.

One one-letter t-shirt does not a trademark make, but the combination?

17

abb1 06.22.06 at 4:13 am

Sign of the decadence of capitalism. General crisis of decomposition, as they say.

18

paul 06.22.06 at 4:15 am

“All promotional, commercial, political or religious items of whatever nature, including but not limited to, banners, signs, symbols and leaflets are prohibited”
Pretty drastic. It would appear to forbid national flags (political symbols). Some national flags (Switzerland, England, Tunisia) might even violate these terms on two counts (politics, religion).

19

Ginger Yellow 06.22.06 at 4:59 am

The stupidest thing about this is that the stadia are all-seater, so spectators wouldn’t have been able to see the “Bavaria” lettering anyway. They’ve got far more publicity as a result of FIFA being arsey, which surely means FIFA are complicit in the “ambush marketing”. If I were Anheuser-Busch, I’d have much preferred them to ignore it. Actually, if I were Anheuser-Busch, I’d kill myself out of self-loathing, but you know what I mean.

20

Tim Worstall 06.22.06 at 5:31 am

I’m not sure what my intuitive response (f off) would tell anyone about my views on IP law.

21

Stuart 06.22.06 at 7:11 am

To #9: A large part of FIFAs operational costs come from the World Cup revenues, also some part of it is given to the FAs of the teams present (as well as funding a lot of FIFA development grants/schemes). Each FA with a team present gets something like £3 million (just for the first round I think, although haven’t seen anything confirming if more is given at later stages or not), so that accounts for something like £100 million I guess. Certainly Togo was getting $5.56 million according to this article.

22

Seth Edenbaum 06.22.06 at 6:28 pm

“FIFA should fcuk themselves.”

you think so?

23

Simon 06.22.06 at 6:33 pm

Have to admit that my intuitive response is jaundiced due to the fact that the official beer is the Worst Beer Ever.

24

Cath 06.24.06 at 2:59 pm

Beer does not have rice in it. American Budwiser does so that is not beer. who is the beer sponcer?

Comments on this entry are closed.