Ambush marketing or not, ICC sponsors' rivals to use players

Ambush marketing or not, ICC sponsors' rivals to use players

Firms such as Sony, TVS, Adidas and Aircel which are rivals to ICC sponsors LG, Hero Honda, Reebok and Reliance Communication respectively have charted plans to launch extensive campaigns featuring Indian cricketers, including MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, during the Cup.

"Nobody is stopping us from doing anything. MS Dhoni is our brand ambassador and we do plan to come out with campaigns during the World Cup, though we have not finalised the plan yet," TVS Motor, President Marketing HS Goindi told PTI.

Similarly, sportswear company Adidas will also launch its campaign in the next 2-3 weeks that will be used not only during the World Cup but also the IPL. Though the company did not comment on its latest plans, the action packed campaign is expected to grab people's eyeballs by lining-up a number of cricketers including none other than Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.

According to experts, the plan of these rival companies to use cricketers may not violate ICC's ambush marketing norms. Ambush marketing is a strategy wherein advertisers try to gain mileage out of an event without paying any sponsorship fee.

For instance, cricketers were used by Pepsi with its 'There''s nothing official about it' campaign during the Wills World Cup in 1996 held in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka much to the ire of rival Coca Cola, which was the official sponsor.

Yesterday ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat had said that council is taking all necessary steps to protect the rights of its commercial partners and has deployed resources to keep a check on ambush marketing.

ICC has over 10 partners for the World Cup that is being played in the subcontinent from February 19 to April 2. LG's rival consumer electronics maker, Sony India that has roped in Dhoni as the new brand ambassador plans to spend Rs 100 crore on its new campaign that will run during the event.

According to sources, telecom services provider Aircel, which is endorsed by Dhoni, is also preparing to launch a new campaign soon. The company's spokesperson, however, declined to comment saying  the plans were still on the drawing board.

Commenting on the ICC rules, a senior executive of a leading multi-national that will soon use cricketers in its ads, said on the condition of anonymity,"The ICC clauses are not very stringent. The regulations are quite flexible."

As per experts, the ICC cannot stop any corporate from promoting its brand during the event and the council can only restrict the cricketers from indulging themselves in ambush marketing.

Even the managers of the cricketers endorsing the brands are of the view that ICC does not stop anyone from appearing in an ad if it does not breach ICC rules on ambush marketing.

"According to the ICC guidelines, a player can also endorse the brands of rival companies. The only thing they cannot do is to use the world cup logo and other things, or wear a team jersey while appearing in those ads," Rhiti Sports Founder Arun Pandey said. The firm manages endorsements of Dhoni.

Unlike other companies, PepsiCo's rival Coca Cola has said that it will not roll out any campaign during the World Cup using Sachin Tendulkar. The company had last month announced him as its 'Happiness Ambassador'.

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