FOOTBALL SPONSORSHIP TAKES A KICKING

The BBC reports that Umbro, one of five sponsorship “partners” working with the FA in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup has condemned recent alleged rape and drugs scandals involving players. Although Umbro has confirmed that it will continue to sponsor the game, an Umbro spokesman said "It is not good news for Umbro as a football brand, if the image of football is tarnished in any way". In fact, the company has a policy of only working personally with footballers who have clean-living reputations. The other four sponsorship “partners”, Nationwide building society, McDonalds, Carlsberg and Pepsi have either said that they are unconcerned or had no comment. However, Umbro is particularly disturbed by the alleged bad behaviour because it considers itself "as a football brand, inherently part of the game".

The IPKat says that a brand owner looking for sponsorship opportunities should ensure that there is good synergy between his brand and the activity he is sponsoring. It would be foolish for a brand owner to get himself involved with an activity that is going to damage the reputation of his brand by attaching negative associations to it rather than enhancing it. This would effectively be an example of self-tarnishment – after all, the brand owner has consented to his trade mark being used in relation to the offending goods or services and so it is highly unlikely to be classed as actionable trade mark dilution. However, things are not so simple for Umbro. Unlike the other sponsorship “partners” who can cut their links with football and choose to sponsor another sporting or cultural event, as a producer of footballing clothing and equipment, it (and its reputation) is inextricably linked to the game, whether it sponsors it or not.

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FOOTBALL SPONSORSHIP TAKES A KICKING <strong>FOOTBALL SPONSORSHIP TAKES A KICKING</strong> Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 Rating: 5

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