Nov 18, 2009 at 03:37 PM
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Infringement of In-stadium Rights or Not?

This is a follow-up to a previous story from a couple weeks back.

We now can see what World Sports Group was so up in arms about last week. Check out the Bajaj Allianz video of the in-stadium vignette featuring the boy and his father, holding a "I have planned for my child's future" sign. Bajaj Allianz was not a sponsor of the event, but did cut a deal with the broadcaster, Neo Sports. World Sports Group, which owned the sponsorship rights to the property, called the spot a blatant and audacious attempt at ambush of on-ground sponsorship.

What do you think? Is this simply a creative broadcast campaign or an infringement of in-stadium sponsorship rights?

Thanks to Brian Gainor for the lead on the video.


SponsorPitch, November 8, 2009:

The grey area of ambush is getting ever more complex. Take the case of insurer, Bajaj Allianz at last weekend's India-Australia cricket match. Bajaj Allianz, not a sponsor of the match, cut a deal with the broadcast partner, Neo Sports, to air a :10 vignette in support of the insurer's new child insurance plans. No harm, no foul right?

Here's the rub. Bajaj Allianz':10 promo, according to the Economic Times, was for an in-stadium camera zoom on a father-son duo with a sign proclaiming ‘I have planned for my child’s future’ with the Bajaj Allianz logo and advertisement flashing on the screen for 10 seconds. “This is a blatant ambush of on-ground sponsorship and it is audacious,” says Harish Krishnamachar, vice-president at World Sport Group (WSG).

Krishnamachar went on to tell The Economic Times:

`The lack of clarity on monitoring responsibility can only lead to confusion and disinterest from sponsors towards the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) bilateral ties. “It demonstrates why sponsors today expect protection at whatever level they may be participating.”`

Conflicts between broadcast and event partners are nothing new. Companies like PVI and Sportvision have given broadcasters the ability to air virtual signage even though it may conflict with event or league sponsors. Of course, these ads aren't actually present in the stadium environment - only on television.

It seems that it would be in the property's best interest to have shared and aligned interests among sponsorship sales agencies and broadcast partners. This, of course, starts with the property/rights-holder. BCCI says it will examine the issue if a grievance is filed, according to the report.

Official sponsors for the India-Australia one-day included Hero Honda (title), Tata Docomo, Tata Motors, HP, Gillette, Perfetti, Samsung and Airtel.

Should promos like this be fair game for broadcast partners or is this an infringement on official sponsorship rights? What can/should properties do to prevent future ambush attempts through fans? With World Cup and the Olympics on tap, this will be a key question for 2010.

For more coverage, read the full article at The Economic Times.