Bavaria Stunt:

The Dutch brewery, Bavaria gained a great amount of brand awareness through exposure of their brand through a publicity campaign which was generated through their ambush marketing stunt. Bavaria created a stir when they organised a publicity stunt at the Holland VS Denmark match hosted in Durban at the Moses Mabhida Stadium during the World Cup 2010, which involved a group of girls wearing orange mini dresses which revealed a very tiny branded label on the bottom of the dresses, only visible to those who paid very close attention.

Bavaria’s ambush marketing stunt, as FIFA called it, created brand awareness worth a value of R 756, 728 through free publicity generated in South African newspaper and broadcast news coverage. This value is only a portion of it, Bavaria gained a total value worth R1 million in local coverage yet their main publicity value was generated from the publicity they received back home in Holland and internationally.  This publicity campaign was a great success as it played on the audience’s emotions as it created a ‘good guy’, ‘bad guy’ personification and this became the instant news which followed by extensive media coverage.

The media blatantly positioned the Dutch Brewery and the beautiful women wearing the bright orange mini dresses as the victims of the story and FIFA as the evil villain. Whether or not Bavaria planned the ambush stunt or not is irrelevant. It is obvious that the public would be drawn to read an article where 30 gorgeous woman, dressed in the same orange mini-skirts to attend the Netherlands and Denmark soccer match on the 14th June during the Soccer World Cup 2010 hosted at Soccer City. The women were taken in for questioning and eventually two of them (Barbara Castelein and MirteNieuwpoort), whom Fifa accused of being the organisers of the campaign, were threatened with prosecution for a criminal offence and arrested. They faced charges of contravening the SA Merchandise Marks Act because Bavaria was not an official World Cup sponsor. FIFA took this seriously as they were trying to protect their main official sponsor Budweiser, as Bavaria is a direct competitor in the beer beverage industry. Yet the legal stir created by FIFA played straight into Bavaria’s hands as the free and extensive publicity generated from the stunt was worth the R10 000 bail fees and are simple the fee’s paid to gain brand awareness around a mega sports event as the target audience who follows this event is huge.

The Charges against the girls were dropped after Bavaria reportedly agreed not to embark on any ambush marketing for the next 12 years and “to respect the integrity of Fifa’s commercial programme”.1

It is probable that similar legislation will be introduced in respect of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and potentially also for other forthcoming major sporting events. For example, New Zealand has passed new laws against ambush marketing at major events such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup and 2015 Cricket World Cup.2

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Vega Honours student striving to make a difference in my field. Passionate about marketing and branding. Driven by my personal life goals

8 Responses to Bavaria Stunt:

  1. Scot says:

    I thought this was a very clever strategy for Bavaria, got exposure in their home town

  2. Jon says:

    As clever as this was, I think your observations are correct. If you are going to do an ambush, it needs to be done in such a way that you associate with the brand, without any branding actually being there. Though the cost of the stunt is far from the R10K bail fee’s. Girls/Lawyers/flights etc must have all added up. Still significantly low compared to being a sponsor though.

  3. Michael Mullany says:

    The thing I found most interesting was how the media were so quick to label the girls victims and all that, whereas they apparently knew exactly what they were doing. Whilst I can’t comment on the treatment of the girls via the police, I wish the media had taken a few more seconds to fully gather the facts before the inflammatory headlines of “Innocent Babes Detained Illegally, Mothers Deflowered, Houses Burnt Down*” started to appear.

    *possible exaggeration.

  4. Gavin says:

    I loved the ambush and it was reported on quite heavily in Australia but to be honest even though I heard all about it I never noticed which brand was behind it.

    I’m personally not sure how effective it is but it’s a ton of fun to watch and the Kulula one is still my favourite.

  5. Geoff says:

    I’m only too happy to have companies and brands parading hot women about. Orange is sexy, too.

  6. Ant says:

    There have been mixed opinions about what was really contributed to the value and/or strength of the Bavaria brand. Clever ambush marketing, a silly idea which resulted in over-hyped drama, or short-lived interest piece in the shadow of the biggest event in South African sporting history?

    Certainly PR is valuable, but can you really put a monetary value to it (in this case R750k), when the context is nothing than just an underbranded prank? Reading the name Bavaria in the newspaper didn’t really make me want to try it between Budweisers. In any case, trifling with the almighty FIFA/BUDWEISER team is EITHER: a potential minefield of drama and litigation OR farting against thunder, so to speak.

    Were fans they wishing their Buds were Bavarias at the World Cup games after seeing unbranded orange dresses? Do beer drinkers love Bavaria more now? Have their sales increased?

    Ambush marketing can work. It’s the marketing team’s prerogative to either strategise the potential consequences, or go in hell for leather forsaking all ethical and legal boundaries. This one involved young girls arriving a soccer game dressed in orange dresses and almost leaving headed for orange overalls.

    Peer Swinkels from Bavaria beer defiantly stated that people “should have the right to wear what they want… the Dutch people are a little crazy about orange and we wear it on public holidays and events like the World Cup,” he said. “This time we put no branding on the dress. And FIFA don’t have a monopoly over orange.”

    To clarify, this is all about misconstrued corporate patriotism disguised as witty ambush marketing.

    Bavaria brand awareness 1, FIFA rulebook 1. No winner.

  7. Charlton says:

    There’s no doubt that any media is good media. There is no question that this kind of “campaign” causes a stir. The important question is as ANT insinuates, does a campaign of this sort create increased sales? only date research could prove anything. blanket exposure for sure was attained. in this day and age the consumer loves a brand that takes chances and upsets the ‘normal’ way of doing things.

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