The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Sunday, 21 September 2003


Problematic internet connections kept this report from hitting the blog before now, but the IPKat is determined not to disappoint his readers. So here are some of the highlights from the rest of the MARQUES conference.

Marcel Beerthuizen (TWBA/Brand Experience) gave an impassioned account of the advantages of both event sponsorship and ambush marketing (here and here), showing first how maximum publicity can be leveraged from becoming an official sponsor and then how cunning planning can undermine or completely scuttle the official sponsor’s position. One good example was Amstel’s hijacking of a Carlsberg-sponsored football event by giving out its distinctive hats to thousands of spectators. In this context he revealed that only 36% of sponsorships were undertaken on the basis of any planning. The IPKat, who enjoys cat-and-mouse games, has weighed the evidence and concludes that ambush marketers hold all the trump cards.

Following on from Marcel, Sven Klos (Klos Morel Vos & Schaap) had some practical things to say about protecting sponsors against ambush marketing. The crudest forms of ambush marketing are actionable as infringements of trade mark rights or other IP rights; the problem lies with more subtle approaches, which manage to infiltrate a competitor’s brand name into the heart of a sponsored event before the ambush can be detected. In some cases it’s not clear whether IP rights are infringed at all. This was the case when Telecom New Zealand replaced the five interlocked Olympic rings with the strategically placed words “ring” “ring” “ring” “ring” “ring” (click here and scroll down to paragraph 50). But are ambushes even wrong, the IPKat muses. Normal principles of competition still apply even when a business has spent a lot of money on a high-profile sponsorship deal. Besides, the ambush marketing is usually much more fun for viewers than the unending torrent of official advertising that accompanies the Olympics and other events.

In his workshop session, Massimo Sterpi (Jacobacci, Turin) detailed the many ways in which a brand can court unpopularity in the marketplace or beyond it. This unpopularity may reveal itself in the brand being parodied, defamed or attacked in more subtle ways. Massimo listed three types of hatred: that which attaches to the mark itself, that which points to the company behind the mark and that which points at the country with which the brand is associated. There was then some lively debate on overbranding, viral marketing and whether there should be public spaces from which brand advertising should be excluded. The IPKat enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of debate, noting that MARQUES participants seemed to have softened their previously antagonistic views on Naomi Klein’s vigorous criticisms of bad behaviour by big brand-owners.

The IPKat is home again now, licking the last of his Turkish Delight off his paws and happily contemplating next year’s MARQUES conference in Rome.

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