Ambush marketing or not, ICC sponsors'' rivals to use players

New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) The ICC may take a tough standagainst ambush marketing during the upcoming World Cup,but the rivals of the sponsors of the tournament are notshying away from using cricketers to promote their brandsduring the mega event.

Firms such as Sony, TVS, Adidas and Aircel which arerivals to ICC sponsors LG, Hero Honda, Reebok and RelianceCommunication respectively have charted plans to launchextensive campaigns featuring Indian cricketers, including MSDhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, during the Cup.

"Nobody is stopping us from doing anything. MS Dhoni isour brand ambassador and we do plan to come out with campaignsduring the World Cup, though we have not finalised the planyet," TVS Motor, President Marketing HS Goindi told PTI.

Similarly, sportswear company Adidas will also launch itscampaign in the next 2-3 weeks that will be used not onlyduring the World Cup but also the IPL.

Though the company did not comment on its latest plans,the action packed campaign is expected to grab people''seyeballs by lining-up a number of cricketers including noneother than Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.

According to experts, the plan of these rival companiesto use cricketers may not violate ICC''s ambush marketingnorms.

Ambush marketing is a strategy wherein advertisers try togain mileage out of an event without paying any sponsorshipfee.

For instance, cricketers were used by Pepsi with its''There''''s nothing official about it'' campaign during the WillsWorld Cup in 1996 held in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka much tothe ire of rival Coca Cola, which was the official sponsor.

Yesterday ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat had said that council istaking all necessary steps to protect the rights of itscommercial partners and has deployed resources to keep a checkon ambush marketing.

ICC has over 10 partners for the World Cup that is beingplayed in the subcontinent from February 19 to April 2.

LG''s rival consumer electronics maker, Sony India thathas roped in Dhoni as the new brand ambassador plans to spendRs 100 crore on its new campaign that will run during theevent.

According to sources, telecom services provider Aircel,which is endorsed by Dhoni, is also preparing to launch a newcampaign soon.

The company''s spokesperson, however, declined to commentsaying the plans were still on the drawing board.

Commenting on the ICC rules, a senior executive of aleading multi-national that will soon use cricketers in itsads, said on the condition of anonymity,"The ICC clauses arenot very stringent. The regulations are quite flexible." MOREPTI VJR RKL

As per experts, the ICC cannot stop any corporate from promoting its brand during the event and the council canonly restrict the cricketers from indulging themselves inambush marketing.

Even the managers of the cricketers endorsing the brandsare of the view that ICC does not stop anyone from appearingin an ad if it does not breach ICC rules on ambush marketing.

"According to the ICC guidelines, a player can alsoendorse the brands of rival companies. The only thing theycannot do is to use the world cup logo and other things, orwear a team jersey while appearing in those ads," Rhiti SportsFounder Arun Pandey said. The firm manages endorsements ofDhoni.

Unlike other companies, PepsiCo''s rival Coca Cola hassaid that it will not roll out any campaign during the WorldCup using Sachin Tendulkar. The company had last monthannounced him as its ''Happiness Ambassador''.

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