Create A Buzz Without Getting Stung: 5 Tips For Marketing During The Rugby League World Cup 2021 – Advertising, Marketing & Branding

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As the 2021 Rugby League World Cup (the
RLWC2021“) belatedly begins (for those
not aware, it was due to take place in the Autumn of 2021 but
COVID-19 issues intervened), many household brands that are the
official partners and sponsors of the famous tournament will be
making the most of the many marketing opportunities that this
sporting event creates. This however does not preclude other
businesses from making use of the spectacle of the event to boost
their own profile.

Below we set out five key issues to bear in mind when putting
together promotional materials intended to piggy back on the

1. Know your rights

The organisers of RLWC2021 have a variety of registered and
unregistered rights, the most obvious example being the logo for the event.

This logo is a UK registered trade mark, meaning any commercial
use of it in advertising risks constituting an infringement of that
mark. For example, an advert for your own products which then
includes this logo and makes reference to the RLWC2021 has a high
likelihood of being trademark infringement, because you will be
seeking to financially gain from the use of the logo.

2. Know your official sponsors

As was seen in relation to the recent Commonwealth Games (for
which Gowling WLG was the official legal advisor), organisers of
large scale events with the sort of rights discussed above will
proactively seek to ensure they are enforced. This is because they
will have agreements with official sponsors that grant various
types of advertising exclusivity. These rights will have been paid
for by the sponsors, and so they will want to ensure they are
getting value for money and are not being overshadowed by
competitors that are not official sponsors.

Therefore, if you are a competitor of an official sponsor, the
risk to any advertising referencing RLWC2021 is considerably higher
because of the interests involved. However, if there is no official
sponsor in the sector you operate, the risk may be lower (and
indeed there may be an opportunity to secure some last minute
official advertising at the event).

3. Consider whether it is necessary to refer to the

Where it is not integral to the marketing campaign for reference
to the RLWC2021 to be made, you may consider creating content in a
way which means the RLWC2021 branding does not appear in the first
place. For example, you may choose to refer to “a rugby league
tournament” or similar, rather than use the RLWC2021 rights.
Alternatively, if your advertising is in proximity to a venue being
used for the event it may not be necessary to allude to RLWC2021 at
all because you will already be benefiting from the footfall of
fans and spectators attending the venue for the event.

If you do need to refer to the tournament, you may wish to limit
the use of the mark to what is absolutely necessary. If you
reference the tournament purely for descriptive purposes, the risk
of infringing rights is considerably lower than if you are seeking
to promote yourself using RLWC2021 intellectual property

4. Do not ambush

Ambush marketing is an attempt by an unauthorised party to take
advantage of the high media profile of an event, team or
individual, through deliberate marketing activity and without
paying any licence or sponsorship fee, at the expense of another
company’s official association with the event, team or

Attempts at ambush marketing are prominent at major sporting
events and notable examples include:

  • The 2010 Ryder Cup: The well-known betting
    chain, Paddy Power, had to remove a 270ft unofficial promotional
    sign placed outside the boundary of Celtic Manor Golf Course in

  • The 2005 Wimbledon Championships: Event
    organisers prevented spectators from bringing into the Wimbledon
    grounds Palmolive branded bottles of water, given to them free at
    the entrance to the grounds, as one of the official sponsors of the
    Wimbledon Championships was Buxton water.

  • The 2006 World Cup: FIFA officials made Dutch
    spectators remove their orange lederhosen which advertised Bavaria
    beer, leaving them having to watch the rest of the match in their

5. Seek legal advice before publishing marketing and/or
promotional materials

Before running a marketing campaign which seeks to gain from an
association with the RLWC2021, it is important to seek legal

If you are uncertain about what terms can be used in relation to
your business during the RLWC2021 and require further information,
we are happy to help so please get in touch.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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