Ian Monk: World Cup ambush had mixed results

Two of the world's most iconic brands were spectacularly ambushed before global audiences at the World Cup last week. Publicists enjoyed field days in the aftermath that set new standards and challenges for image makers and reputation managers.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

In the first instance, Brand Budweiser fell victim to a posse of identically dressed orange-clad beauties, who seduced the TV cameras before the Holland vs Denmark game.

As the pictures were broadcast, smart publicists drew the media's attention to the tiny Bavaria Beer logos on the girls' dresses. These breached the exclusive rights expensively purchased by Budweiser as FIFA's sole beer sponsor.

The retribution - arrests and threats of jail sentences leading to a diplomatic incident - was heavy-handed and a gift to Bavaria Beer.

'Brand police' enforcing laws as rigorously as if confronted with a jihadi terror plot left a bad taste regarding the power of global brands, which predictably was milked by the underdog's publicity machine.

Ambush number two featured Brand Beckham in the Budweiser role, while the role of the Bavarian Beer minnows was taken by Princes William and Harry.

The princes, apparently having been advised that it is now the Beckingham Palace rather than the Buckingham Palace brand that carries equity, conducted their own ambush without extras.

As Beckham earnestly addressed the world on his mission to console a wretched England dressing room, he found himself flanked on camera by an heir and a spare. 'Harry and I behaved like idiots,' said William, explaining the Royals' role in cheering up disconsolate multimillionaire footballers.

The scene left confusing images. Beckham's image as the People's Prince of footballing royalty may have been enhanced by the ambush.

However, old royalty, revelling in the role of court jesters to the England changing room, may find its brand goes down less smoothly than a Bavarian Beer.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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