FIFA Can Forget Protecting Against Guerrillas - Brands Are Fighting For Share Of The Second-Screeners

The first Twitter enforcements over FIFA logos have taken place and so the scene is set -- guerrilla marketing has moved from stadia to social media. There may still be attempts from rival beer brands, tyre manufacturers and consumer electronics companies to get a placard or two into a World Cup stadium and even have a line of people in bright outfits belonging to a brand who is not an official sponsor.

Consider this, however. Why bother? If you manage to get a few people into the grounds without guards noticing a sign or coordinated outfits, you may well succeed. And then what? You look pretty desperate, and it's very unlikely the national broadcaster will give you any airtime. Great for a few "look at us" selfies that will still underline your gate-crashing status.

On the other hand, think up something creative and funny and share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and so on -- and people will laugh, like and share.

Mark my words -- this is the first World Cup where FIFA and its official sponsors are going to find they do not control the event. Sure, they control what happens in and immediately around the stadia and they can even insist -- or at least try to insist -- that footballers put their Beats headphones in a kit bag when they get off the coach and don a Sony set instead. What they cannot even attempt to do is to police clever use of incidents, news and controversial moments that clever brands will be working on right now, ready for launch.

If Suarez's knee means he only makes it to the bench against England, I'll lay a bet that a brand will be working on a submarine bearing his name with the "Dive, Dive, Dive" command ringing out in a speech bubble -- I should trademark that! If a brand doesn't already have a picture of a space rocket getting hit by a terrible penalty, I'll be very surprised. There will be hashtags based on moments, players and teams which no official brand can control. This truly is the first World Cup where the hashtag will do all the guerrilla marketing for worldwide brands.

Weight it up. Would you rather spend, say, twenty thousand pounds flying out a team of marketing execs to gate crash football's biggest tournament or do you think you'd get more bang for your proverbial buck having that team stay at home, come up with great campaigns which have the leftover twenty grand to pump into tweet and status promotions?

I studied history and have always loved the saying that every war is lost by the same means the last one was won. Germany was starved and bombarded in 1918 when a collapse in national morale lead to defeat, and so thought a blitz of London would win World War II. In fact, it had exactly the opposite effect. 

So FIFA has made announcements on how it has learned lessons from 2010 to better enforce brand rights, but is less vocal on the area where it remains powerless. 

Even for marketers who do not care about football, the upcoming tournament is going to be the biggest sporting spectacle ever for brands taking to social to win the hearts and minds of the second-screeners.

This battle will be every bit as fascinating as the tournament itself.
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