Trademarked as Fail – Chapter 2, Strip 35

OK, so I admit this strip is slightly off topic…I just couldn’t stop myself from going with the (ill) spirit surrounding a certain sports event in Europe these days. XD

For those that are not aware what all the fuss is about: There’s a certain international body, organizing a certain quadruannual soccer tournament, which will take place in Germany this year. Said body sold sponsorship slots to major companies at a hefty price tag of around 57 million dollars a pop. Aside from advertising space, this sponsorship package includes exclusive rigths to use the various trademarks connected to the tournament, as well as contingents of game tickets to be given away in lotteries or to VIPs.

Trademarks also include a logo and a mascot, both of which, despite the millions to spend on them, are rather uninspired and unoriginal, and not quite on par with what the average U.S. high school football team can come up with. The logo is group of chatroom emoticons, with facial expressions in the drunk->stoned range, with the year ’06’ hidden so cleverly that most people fail to notice it. The mascot is an grossly overweight shaggy creature of indeterminate species (supposed to be a lion, it seems, but looking more like an unkempt bear) with no pants. It’s only adornment is a plain t-shirt with ’06’ on it…once more, that’s supposed to be the year, but in German, ‘null sechs’ (zero six) is homophonous to ‘null sex’ (absolutely no intercourse)…and that would somehow explain the poor creature’s permanently pained expression.

Anyway, in order to legitimate the steep price tag of those sponsorships, the international body in question went rather agressively about ‘defending’ exclusivety of it’s trademarks…trying, for example, to prevent non-sponsoring companies from as much as use a plain ‘World Cup’ on any piece of non-licensed merchandise, and mandating zones around the various venues in which no non-licensed merchandise at all was supposed to be sold by anybody. Predictably, this caused a huge public backlash, especially in Germany, reaching a point where some sponsors allegedly started to fear ‘official’ assosciation with the tournament and it’s governing body might actually turn into a liability (and an expensive one at that.)

To add insult to injury, in late April, a German court declared some of the trademarks void, citing non-distinctiveness of generic phrases like ‘Soccer World Cup’. And to add increduilty to insult and injury, German district attorneys launched investigations for bribery in cases where VIP tickets had been distributed, which now leads many to outrightly refuse such invitations…

So to sum matters up, for 57 million dollars you get an association with an organization that is now widely reviled as heavy-handed and arrogant, use of trademarks other’s can use without paying, and a contingent of tickets that you can give away to business contacts, landing them in jail. Hopefully, the sponsors will at least get to write that whole investment off as a tax deduction…

Oh, and this just an: German plushie producer Nici, who paid 35 million dollars for exclusive rigths to produce official World Cup mascot Goleo plushies, filed for bancruptcy protection last week, sitting on a huge pile of unsold Goleos…

Likely, the organizers will have less sponsorship money to spend, next time around. Well, if they drop to high school football budget levels, at least there would be a better mascot.

A new voting incentive is up, as well, Harry Potter themed and featuring Ron’s major moment of revelation in Order of the Phoenix. On Thursday, we’ll move on with the plot. (don’t worry, today was the one and only World Cup reference in BMC. XD )

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