The two women who are alleged to have organised the stunt were charged with contravening South Africa's Merchandise Marks Act and could now face jail sentences of up to six months. Their crime - masterminding an ambush marketing campaign on behalf of Bavaria beer.
The incident itself did make the headlines and involved the attendance at the Holland versus Denmark game by thirty six women, all clad in orange mini dresses. The women entered the stadium dressed in plain clothes, and minutes into the game, quickly began to undress to reveal the orange mini dresses below. Predictably, the world's media turned towards them, capturing images which would grab the attention of editors around the globe. After a short spell of media coverage, the women were escorted out of the stadium as World Cup organisers considered them to be part of an ambush marketing campaign. It was later revealed that the orange mini dresses were at the time being given away free as part of a promotion by Bavaria beer in Holland.
Ambush marketing is not a new phenomenon and can infact be traced back to the 1984 Olympics where Kodak ran advertisements suggesting an association, when in fact Fuji were the official sponsors. Each major sporting event since then has been infiltrated by ambush marketeers hoping to gain maximum exposure at a fraction of the cost.
To prevent ambush marketing, South Africa had passed strict new laws to enforce FIFA regulations which prohibit the promotion of any brands other than official sponsors during World Cup games. As a result, all firms wishing to conduct promotional activity during World Cup games had to obtain official FIFA sponsor status. The aim being to prevent companies benefiting from the event without having contributed to the funding of it through the monies received in advertising revenues.
Similar measures will, and to a large extent already have been put in place for the 2012 Olympic Games in London and for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 creates the London Olympic association right which effectively gives the Olympic Games organisers the power to grant licences to authorised sponsors to use Olympic logos and particular words before, during and after the Olympic Games with fines of up to £20,000 being imposed to anyone who contravenes it.
Events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup are hugely expensive to stage and countries therefore rely on sponsorship to fund them. This requires the imposition of strict laws to safeguard sponsors' interests and in turn aggresive enforcement. It is clear that event organisers must minimise opportunities for non sponsoring marketeers to profit from the exposure such events provide, if they are to maximise their funding. However with the publicity that comes with such events, opportunities are inevitably created and when the eyes of the world are upon such events, one thing is for sure, marketeers will be there. After all, there is no such thing as bad publicity.