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February 6, 2014

National and international sporting events afford companies high-profile opportunities to get their brands in front of millions of people. 

They also come with tremendous risks if companies aren’t careful about their involvement. Big-time domestic events present some challenges but, when eyes turn to the international stage, the stakes and the risks multiply. As an example of what we mean, we will take a look at the major issues companies faced when involved with the National Football League’s Super Bowl in New Jersey/New York compared to what lies ahead at the Federation Internationale de Football Association’s World Cup soccer tournament, this year held in Brazil.

Domestic Events Have Location Advantages

The Super Bowl has two location advantages over the World Cup when it comes to security. The first is that it is always played in the same country. This gives authorities a host of legacy information from past events to pull from as they try to minimize risks. The second advantage is that the Super Bowl is played in large market cities that have likely already been penetrated by most sponsor’s brands. There is not as much pressure to make a big, on-site (or in-country) splash as with the World Cup, which may be hosted by an emerging market country. Simply put, Nike or Coke don’t have to host huge events/parties at the Super Bowl…the market is already saturated with their marketing and product. Their focus is more on having the most lasting-impression TV commercial of the night.

Counterfeiting Key Issue for Super Bowl Brand Protection

A primary threat at the Super Bowl for companies is the misuse of their brand. Illegal use of images, trademarks, and products can be rampant if not anticipated and without a plan for controlling it. An all-too-common sight at games is vendors selling unauthorized merchandise with a team or NFL logos on them. This illegal sale of branded material has skyrocketed over the years. Counterfeiting of logoed shirts, hats, flags, and other products has become easier with advances in technology. The internet provides individuals with all the resources necessary to take a branded image or logo and replicate it. Therefore, it is essential that brands monitor the legal and illegal distribution of intellectual property. Through industry-leading techniques, it is possible to identify counterfeiters, track their channels of trade, and locate the source of their goods. These techniques are reinforced by the abilities of a wide range of local and federal authorities that work diligently to ensure that any illegal activity is controlled. Diligent brand monitoring measures can provide a company the peace of mind of knowing that their brand is fully protected.

While counterfeiting is a big issue for brands involved with the Super Bowl, it pales in comparison to the concerns companies have when involved with the World Cup.

World Cup Threats Increase

The next World Cup is this June in Brazil. Many companies see that country, and all of South America, as an emerging market. To introduce their products/services, they will host large-scale events and parties. With these events, the primary concern is security. Intelligence gathering and intense planning must be a priority for companies looking to create a presence during the month-long international soccer event. All the goodwill and recognition of their branded events can quickly become a public relations nightmare, damaging the brand on a world stage.

Threats to the success a brand has with its World Cup presence can come in many forms. For this reason, Pinkerton recommends setting up “Fusion Centers.”  Fusion Centers are on-site intelligence hubs that review, analyze, and monitor activities ranging from natural disasters to evacuations to protests or political uprisings. A Fusion Center has the resources to monitor and then dispense the necessary personnel in emergency situations.

It is essential that background investigations are completed in advance. Background investigations should be completed on every level from venues the company will be attending, companies that they will be working with, and additional employees that are being hired. Some companies will even go as far as to check the background of construction companies who built the venues they will use for an event.

Overall, the global market is continually expanding. Companies must do all that they can to avoid negatively affecting a brand’s integrity. A tarnished brand may never recover in its entirety. Therefore, whether it is a domestic or global market, it is necessary to consider the dangers in every situation and have a response plan in place to handle it if it were to arise. 

For more information on how Pinkerton can assist you in brand protection visit the Brand Enforcement and Protection Services page of our website.

Brand Protection