Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Post: Marketing and the Rugby World Cup - a checklist for businesses

Thanks to Corinne Blumsky for this article.

There are just 88 days until the biggest sporting event New Zealand has ever hosted hits our shores. Businesses are gearing up their promotional and advertising activities to be involved with The Rugby World Cup 2011 in some way. But there are rules that need to be observed.

Checklist item #1: Be aware of MEMA

The Rugby World Cup 2011 is a declared event under the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA).

MEMA is designed to protect the rights of the major event organisers and sponsors from being undermined by unauthorised commercial exploitation.

The aim of the Act is provide a clear, predictable and fair regime for dealing with ambush marketing.


Checklist item #2: Know what ambush marketing is

Ambush marketing describes the actions of businesses that seek to associate themselves with a sponsored event without paying the event organisers. MEMA specifically targets two forms of ambush marketing:

  1. Ambush marketing by association.
  2. Ambush marketing by intrusion.

Ambush marketing by association is where an advertiser misleads the public into thinking that it is an approved partner or somehow associated with the event. Association is a wide concept. It extends to implying any relationship of connection, approval, authorisation, sponsorship, or commercial arrangement with the event.

Advertising that directly refers to the major event will fall foul of this Act. So, this type of advertisement is out:




Proud to bring you the The Rugby World Cup 2011


Advertising and brand agencies can also be in breach of the Act if you designed the advertisement for your client.

Ambush marketing by intrusion involves taking advantage of the assembled audience in a specific location or location around the event stadium to promote a brand.


There are exceptions, for example MEMA does not restrict advertising by an existing business which is honestly carrying out its ordinary activities. Also if you get consent from the event organiser, then you will not be in breach of the Act.

To see the Ministry of Economic Development Guide on what you can and can’t do, follow this link.


Checklist item #3: Avoid words and emblems that are prohibited


Many words and emblems are not available for businesses to use during The Rugby World Cup 2011.

To see what emblems and words are protected and you should avoid using, follow this link

Checklist item #4: Observe clean zones, transport routes and periods


Clean zones, transport routes and period have all now been announced.


The zones and routes announced vary in size. The Eden Park clean zone and route in Auckland is extensive and the clean periods for these areas is longer than elsewhere. In contrast, the clean zone and route for Auckland’s North Shore is small and the clean periods are short.

In some cases, the clean zone is largely limited to the stadium and surrounding park land but the clean route is significant. For example, the Wellington clean route runs from the stadium, through the centre of town, all the way to the airport.


As a general rule, the clean periods are limited to the day before match day and match day. The major exception is the fifth clean period for the Eden Park clean zone and route, which is in place from 8am 5 October until 11.59pm 24 October (the quarter finals until the final).

All advertising in the zones and routes is not prohibited. If you are advertising in accordance with your ordinary honest activities the restrictions are unlikely to apply to you. But if you are thinking of doing something different you may want to seek legal advice.


  • The clean zone restrictions apply to advertising in the clean zone and advertising that can be seen from within the clean zone (if it’s not part of a business’s usual signage).
  • The clean route restrictions apply to advertising in the route only (not advertising outside the route that can be seen from within the route).
  • Honest ordinary advertising in the zones and route is unlikely to be restricted.

For the clean zones, transport route maps and periods for your operating region, follow this link.


The key is to know the rules so you can work within them.


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