Companies hoping to piggyback on next year's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) to score free advertising could face criminal prosecution. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has indicated his intention to designate the Afcon 2013 a "protected event" in terms of South Africa's ambush marketing legislation. This will ensure stringent advertising laws are enforced similar to those used during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Ambush marketing occurs when advertisers capitalise on an event without paying a sponsorship fee. The aim is to draw attention from the official brand onto another.
Davies's proposal is open for public comment until 15 December 2012.
Port Elizabeth will host eight matches in Africa's soccer showpiece. They include six group-stage matches, a quarterfinal and a third-place match. Adams and Adams attorney Kelly Thompson said it was likely the event would be classified as protected.Focus on legitimate benefits
"Unless [companies] wish to land themselves in hot water, [they] would do well to avoid either direct or indirect references to the event in advertisements and rather focus on the legitimate benefits which will arise."
She said the more insidious forms of ambush marketing involved handing out samples or free branded items at events.
"Sometimes traders seek to benefit from the publicity surrounding an event by giving away tickets to the event or running promotional competitions. This, too, may constitute ambush marketing," Thompson said.
Ambush marketing is prohibited and catered for in Section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act. During the World Cup, two Port Elizabeth restaurants fell foul of Fifa's ambush marketing rules. The owner of Phoenix Hotel and Stage Door pub was threatened with a R50,000 fine for allegedly violating Fifa's stipulated municipal bylaw. Two posters bearing the words "2010 Soccer World Cup" had to be removed or covered up.
Guido's in Heugh Road, Walmer, was also ordered to cover up a hand- painted soccer ball on the front window of the restaurant.