The Running Commentary

Un-defence of Kulula….

So initially I sided with most of the “social media” opinion out there about the fact that Kulula were ordered to remove their “unofficial ad”.  Like the majority of the opinions reflected out there I was outraged that our low cost hero’s should be ordered to withdraw their advertising campaign.

My outrage stemming from the fact that I hate it when creative gets stifled.  I think that this smacks of uncompetitive behavior and dominance by those with the deep pockets.

But…..and I guess you saw this coming….I have changed my view on the entire escapade.

 I believe, after talking to a number of people, that the advice that Kulula received from their advertising agency was flawed.  This campaign was truly the definition of ambush marketing.  It completely sought to draw attention to Kulula at the expense of the official sponsors.  These sponsors having paid huge amounts of money for these bragging rights, rights which must be protected.

I foolishly felt that Kulula were somehow justified, but they are not.  The rules of the game are quite simple. The world cup is run by FIFA. If you want to draw any benefit for your brand from it, then you need to do so through them.  If you do not have deep enough pockets to play in this space, then you need to accept this and move on.

FIFA’s claim to the South African imagery is a leap to far in my opinion, but their ownership of the FIFA World Cup is not up for debate. Kulula may have the hearts of the people in terms of their brand positioning and just like Nando’s they may thrive off the popular or sometimes controversial opinion, but they should not break the law.   

I have actually reached another view on this whole topic.  I believe that Kulula knew that the advert would be pulled.  I think that this was a boardroom discussion that went something along the following lines: “IF we get away with it then it will be in line with our brand, IF we are required to pull then we make as much of the social opinion as we can”. 

Why do I hold this view, well…..

If Kulula truly believe that they have done nothing wrong, then they should go to court and defend their case.  This way they may even set a precedent for the rest of the “smaller” brands out there.  If they thought they could win then they would be in court.  The fact of the matter is that they know they will not win. This is the true acid test as to whether they acted correctly or not.  They know that a court of law will side with FIFA and therefore they will milk the social support. 

Their latest advert which appeared on Sunday would not be effective, were it not for the FIFA intervention over the first campaign.  In all I think that “clever” marketers would deliver far more creative campaigns to deliver an effective result.

Flouting the law should not be something condoned in South Africa.

2010AdvertisingCampaignsFootballKululaSoccerSouth AfricaWorld Cup

Mike • March 23, 2010

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