Friday, June 18, 2010

Bare Thighs, Blonde Babes and Bavaria Beer- A Big Headache for Blatter's Boys

Many men watching the Netherlands-Denmark world cup match on the 15th of June, ogled, drooled, lusted, you name it, over the thirty- six thigh baring, mini dress clad blonde beauties who gave them a “feast,” for the eyes a quarter way into the match. Testosterone levels, already ignited by the soccer buzz must have sky rocketed! Even TV viewers got a share of the action, thanks to the TV crews that wasted no time in zooming in on these ladies who peeled off their Danish supporters’ clothes, to reveal short orange coloured dresses with tiny Bavaria Beer (Dutch beer brand) labels strategically placed by the bottom hems of the outfits. Many are probably disappointed right now that this “eye candy,” that they drooled over was a once off and will not be a sight to behold in future matches to be played by the Netherlands!

World news reports have informed us over the past few days that these women (two of them Dutch and the rest South African) were booted out of the stadium and questioned by the police. The Dutch ladies Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort are now facing criminal charges of “Ambush world cup marketing,” which means illegal advertising that piggy backs on the world cup event for free. FIFA are also suing the Dutch beer company Bavaria for allegedly sponsoring these women to travel to South Africa to engineer this campaign.

While some of us see this as much-a-do about nothing, Sepp Blatter’s boys are frothing at the mouth and to an extent they are justified. Companies such as the world cup’s official beer supplier Budweiser, have footed millions of dollars in sponsorship and advertising deals to FIFA, so advertising is not about to be handed out as a freebie to Bavaria when other companies are paying top dollar for it. There are however some loopholes that I have observed as I have been following the story. These could work against FIFA and the South African government in their fight against Bavaria.

Although it is common knowledge back in Holland that the orange mini dress is a marketing tool in Bavaria’s adverts and comes with the eight pack of their beer, it will be hard to prove that these women were indeed out to market for Bavaria. Bavaria will claim that it is not responsible for their customers wearing their promotional outfits which are after all not labelled in huge easily recognisable letters. They have said orange is the colour of choice in Holland and FIFA does not hold a monopoly over the colour. One wonders if a crowd of kwaito or pantsula dancers from the townships were to rock up at a world cup match dressed in their trademark All Star trainers or Ama Kip Kip T-shirts, would the alliance of FIFA and the South African Police Service (SAPS) pounce on them for ambush advertising? I am sure the ladies in orange are not the only ones who have come to the stadium dressed in non affiliated gear. Is the law selectively applied only to those who have the capacity to swell the coffers of FIFA? Food for thought.

The two Dutch women have allegedly been roughly handled by the police and Dutch authorities have raised concern about this. The fact that the other thirty-four South African blondes have not been charged along with these two, will surely exacerbate this governmental friction. To what extent is the South African government going to enforce its SA Merchandise Marks Act without causing a diplomatic row?

The way I see it, FIFA and the police have sensationalised the issue and in the process are shooting themselves in the foot. Had they escorted the women from the stadium quietly and served them with a warning, the story would not have spread like wild fire. Bavaria could have been quietly but sternly told off and informed of pending legal action without the angry comments that have been thrown to the press. The full force legal battle would then have been fought after the world cup. In the meantime, Budweiser who have the official right to advertise their beer at the world cup could come up with their own answer to the babes in orange, a hotter, sexier and more lasting sales pitch than the short lived Bavarian promotion.

This lack of a cool, calm and collected approach and too much focus on the women who are mere pawns in this game, have served to make these women martyrs in the public eye. They presently appear as victims of overly harsh punishment for carrying out a naughty but harmless gimmick. What better advertising for Bavaria than this? I am sure that with the ways events have turned out, many a hot blooded male fan is sulking at how the girls in the minis have been treated and is bound to drown his sorrows in a mug of Bavaria.

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