This opportunistic marketing ploy is used by businesses and individuals to market and promote their branded products and services in the run-up to an event, during the event and even thereafter. These businesses and individuals have no link with the event, in this case the Comrades Marathon, but illegally exploit the event as a marketing platform for their products and services.
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) provides a very comprehensive definition of ambush marketing:
“It is the attempt by an organization, product or brand to create the impression of being an official sponsor of an event or activity by affiliating itself with that event or activity without having paid the sponsorship rights fee or being party to the sponsorship contract”
Integral to the ambush marketing tactics are the unauthorized use of Comrades Marathon registered trademarks like the terms “Comrades Marathon”, “AmaBeadibBeadi”, “The Ultimate Human Race”, and the “Figure of Hermes”, the Comrades Marathon’s official logo. These trademarks have been registered with the Registrar of Trademarks in Pretoria and have also been registered in terms of the Heraldry Act No. 18/1962.
“Sponsors and Suppliers invest considerable sums of money, manpower and products into the race and we will not allow non-sponsoring companies to use the race as a platform to market their products or services. If you are not a sponsor of the event it is illegal to try to create the impression that you are or that you are somehow associated with the Comrades Marathon. We will be obliged to use the full force of the law to act against transgressors’’, Gary Boshoff, General Manager of the CMA warned.
While these marks are the property of the Comrades Marathon Association it also forms part of the public domain. According to Boshoff:
“The CMA welcomes the use of its registered marks by the media, both print and electronic, when reporting on the race. However, businesses and individuals seeking to use these registered marks for advertising and marketing purposes need to obtain permission for this from the CMA”.
He went on to emphasize that “any person, business or organization who has not obtained the written authority of the Comrades Marathon Association, may be prosecuted in a court of law and in addition to this the court may award the cost of the action”.
On Comrades Race Day the route will be monitored by the SAPS and a team of specially trained ‘route monitors’ to identify unauthorized marketing activities. The CMA will confiscate illegal products and the guilty parties will be removed from the route. The CMA will reserve its right to institute legal proceedings where it is deemed to be necessary.
Statement Released on Monday, 23 May 2011