As World Cup Cricket 2003 approaches, the fight between the official sponsors and the ambush marketers is intensifying. Even as legal cases have been filed against the 'ambush marketers' in the Delhi High court, the contests, draws and coupons continue to appear in different media vehicles.
Global cricket body ICC states that Pepsi, LG Electronics, Hero Honda, South African Airways, Hutch-Orange, Standard Bank-South Africa, Toyota-South Africa, South African Breweries, MTN and SET MAX are the official partners and sponsors of the event. However, a lot of companies not included in this list are offering tickets to World Cup 2003 as part of their promotional campaigns. These include, Eveready, Britannia India, Visa, Sahara India and HPCL.
One such ambush marketer - ABN Amro Bank, which has been running 'Cricket Safari Contest,' is refusing to take any stand. When contacted by exchange4media to ask whether the scheme of giving tickets to World Cup would continue after ICC's warnings, officials at ABN Amro said that they are presently examining the issue.
Though there is no law in India that can protect official sponsors from 'ambush marketing', Sen- Oberoi, Attorneys-at -Law which has ICC Development (International) Ltd. as its client, has filed cases against the 'ambush marketers' in Delhi High Court. Says Dahlia Sen- Oberoi, Counsel, ICC Development (International) Ltd., "These are the companies which are not the official sponsors but are trying to get benefited out of the event. There is no law against 'ambush marketing' in India, we are trying to lay a new law, by drawing from the common law. But in South Africa 'ambush marketing' is a criminal offense."
The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA), has favored ICC by coming up with official release, threatening jail sentences to the companies as well as individuals engaging in 'ambush marketing.'
With this, the official partners and the sponsors are themselves getting concerned. "Nobody can offer tickets to World Cup 2003 as sales promotions except the official sponsors to the event, any one who does that is liable for imprisonment in South Africa," threatens Ganesh Mahalingam, GM Marketing, LG India. LG India is spending close to 40-45 cores in the campaigns for World Cup 2003 and it plans to send about 2000 people to the event.
Complicating the problem, the fight between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the players too is getting fiery. Recently, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given an offer to ICC, according to which the Indian cricket players will forgo endorsements, that conflict with the official sponsors during the tournament in South Africa only for months February and March, instead of 30 days before and after the event as detailed in the contracts.
Telegraph newspaper of Calcutta, says that "BCCI's take it or leave it player terms package' is likely to be accepted by the ICC provided it is able to convince its commercial sponsors for the World Cup 2003.
ICC had clinched deal worth US $ 550 million in year 2000, with the sponsors, for events till year 2007. In return it promised them protection against 'ambush marketing.'