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By Tebogo Monama | May 07, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WORLD football controlling body Fifa defended its "hostile" marketing strategies by saying it is just protecting its brand.

Fifa's marketing director Thierry Weil said yesterday if the country felt their rules were too restrictive, it was only because they wanted to protect their brand against hijackers.

"When you buy a car, you buy it completely ... you don't let everybody drive it, and it is the same for our partners (SA) - they bought the car, they want the key and they want to be ensured that they are the only ones driving it."

Weil said the World Cup was the biggest platform on the marketing front.

"It is very difficult to manage. We want all our commercial affiliates to have exclusive rights, but we are also flexible. MacDonald's has 132 branches in the country, but they have decided to give back their rights to Fifa in relation to fan parks.

"We will have local businesses from host cities to supply food at the parks as long as the food is unbranded."

Fifa's right protection programme legal manager Mpumi Mazibuko said they have so far identified at least 450 cases of ambush marketing. "Our job is to protect the Fifa brand. During the World Cup, we will have right protection programme representatives in the host cities to ensure that no ambush marketing is happening.

"This is the first time the tournament has been held in a place that has such advanced intellectual property laws. We have the Ambush Marketing Act and the Trade Practices Act, and there is a criminal sanction for people who contravene these acts."

One of the cases Fifa dealt with involved budget airline Kulula, which was instructed to withdraw an advert that said it was the "Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What".

"We sent a letter to the airline telling them that they are involved in ambush marketing, they agreed and withdrew the adverts," Mazibuko said.

Fifa also won a settlement against Metcash Trading Africa in November 2007. The wholesaler was selling a lollipop product marketed under the name "2010 POPS".

City of Jo burg's Sibongile Mazibuko said: "We understand vendors are not allowed to have stalls in the designated areas, but we know there are mamas that have been working at the stadiums for years, and we will accommodate them. We will provide them with Joburg-branded marquees. When people sell at fan parks, they will have to decant their beverages into clear bottles if they are not sponsors."


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