Thursday, 17 June 2010

Corporate interests versus civil liberties?

After my blog a few months ago on the 2012 Olympics sponsorship interests putting limits on freedom of speech, it's fascinating to see it actually happening at the World Cup.

Apparently a large group of women were ejected from the Netherlands-Denmark match for taking part in a publicity stunt for Dutch brewing company Bavaria (which is a region in Germany, oddly). Two women have now been arrested under the "Contravention of Merchandise Marks Act".

Now, this all sounds kind of fair enough - the World Cup gets a lot of money from sponsorship and that's how it runs. Maybe I'd do it differently, but I'm not running the World Cup. And if you're a sponsor, there's no point paying $zillions if your competitors get on camera for free. Apparently ITV sports commentator Robbie Earle has been sacked for giving tickets to the women, so it sounds like there really was a deliberate "marketing stunt" going on. I'm not sure what penalties you should dish out to the individuals and to the company involved, but if you break the rules, something's going to happen.

My concern is this - what were the women actually doing? Here's the BBC photo:



Okay, maybe they were doing a special dance, like bees doing a corporate Macarena or something. Maybe they were sending coded messages in semaphore saying "BUY BAVARIA, BUD SUCKS". Their actions are something I can't comment on.

But it looks to me like they're just wearing orange. In which case, the only thing I'd say to the World Cup organisers is "Have you met anyone from the Netherlands?"

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