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Vodacom shows how to foil FIFA

May 20 2010 13:33 Poloko Mofokeng

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Johannesburg - Vodacom seems to have taken a leaf out of Pepsi's book by cleverly using its sports sponsorship without stepping on FIFA's toes. Its antics may annoy the football body and rival MTN, which happens to be a 2010 FIFA World Cup sponsor, but it cannot be touched.

With its Join the voice behind Bafana Bafana campaign, it ropes in soccer stars such as Matthew Booth and Teko Modise in its TV ads. Furthermore, the mobile provider is cutting it close with its cellphone and Bafana shirt package costing only R200. The shirts are not the national team jerseys, but have the national colours and logo.

The garments don't allude to the soccer tournament, so they are in keeping with FIFA's guidelines. The soccer body has no rights over the words Bafana Bafana and Vodacom has made use of this. There are rules barring fans from entering stadiums with clothing items mass produced by brands targeting fans leading up to the event.

It will be case of wait and see since Vodacom has incorporated its branding, although in small print. The company is within its rights as the national team sponsor. The onus will be on FIFA to prove that World Cup fans were specifically targeted.

The soccer campaign follows a similar route to Player 23, a campaign showing Vodacom's support for South African rugby. Both leverage off established sports sponsorship around a major tournament. The rugby ads appeared around the British and Rugby Lions rugby tour last year.

Player 23 characters Jan and Elton make an appearance in some of the soccer ads. In one, they show Matthew Booth how to celebrate after a goal. This follows other ads, with different characters showing the stars the best way to celebrate. The twosome appear in another commercial blinged out in Bafana-inspired outfits in a rap video, with guest spots by players from the winning 1995 World Cup Springbok team which was sponsored by the mobile operator. Mimicking rap artists, Elton shows off his Player 23 ring, further connecting Vodacom's sporting properties.

The ads encourage fans to send inspirational messages to the team via sms. This will enter them into a competition where they can win R1m, among other prizes. Vodacom is pulling out all the stops, with its marketing head Enzo Scarcella mentioning that Nelson Mandela was the first to send an sms message.

"The campaign is about creating a vehicle for fans to encourage players," according to Draftfcb creative team of Neo Mashigo (creative director) and Mohlalifi Letsoane (copywriter). Mashigo adds: "The campaign is a continuation of 'join the voice behind soccer', with more of a focus on the national team."

Much like Player 23, this campaign has legs. There is a mobisite offering soccer information and entertainment. Users can download the show dem song by RJ, which is incorporated into the ads. They can also upload their videos with celebratory dances for the team.

Videos of people making up their own moves at sporting events will also be uploaded. This forms part of the activation drive aimed at sports games and malls. Vodacom-backed teams Kaiser Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtics, Blue Bulls and the Stormers will form part of the activations, with dancers showing the public how to show dem. The campaign encompasses outdoor, radio and print.

Although the campaign was rolled out on April 26, it launched with 29 days to go before the World Cup kick-off and will end in June just as the tournament starts. 

 - Fin24.com

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