Cut of the dress too much for FIFA

Dress too short, woman arrested

CONFLICTING statements from FIFA around the Bavaria Beer dress controversy could be a case of sour grapes or stail hops. It appears, the federation have sold the rights to advertise beer to Anheuser Busch who don’t want to see any competitors associated with the tournament. Bavaria Beer, a Netherlands based brewing company apparently paid some women to wear clothing manufactured by the company. They also gave away tickets and organised volunteers to “create a team wearing the Holland national colours but posing as Danish supporters”.

There doesn’t appear to be anything illegal in doing this,¬† but FIFA maintain the group has contravened the South African Merchandise Marks Act which was recently amended to make room for commercial rights which may exceed the freedoms guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution.

It appears the “ambush marketing”¬† tactic has more to do with the exposure gained by the arrests, than the actions in and of¬† themselves. Since there is absolutely nothing distinguishing the women and their dresses from other similarly clad Dutch supporters — Orange is traditionally the colour associated with the Dutch Royal family. (See previous posting)

The group may have been “outed” in order to gain international exposure for the Bavaria brand.¬† Bavaria Beer¬† have ambushed the anti-ambush-marketers in the process.

Participants in the supposed “ambush” marketing campaign describe their arrest in a way which appears to give credence to this theory. It would appear that a sophisticated game of industrial espionage and police-work has resulted in the spectacle of Dutch Orange supporters being arrested for doing little more than wear Orange sporting apparel.

To look at this picture another way, imagine if a clothing manufacturer  handed out beer in unmarked containers as part of a publicity stunt. The only thing linking the company to the product is the controversy. The thought police are going to have a hard time proving that the incident was part of an illegal marketing campaign, since it would appear the marketing was dependent upon the arrests being conducted and thus played up to the fears of the organisors.

FIFA has therefore been stung by its own stupidity in an elaborate cat and mouse game in which freedom — our freedom as a nation — is being sacrificed in the process.

FIFA president Joseph Blatter may have had this in mind when he described the women as “nothing more than advertising mules,” in the process reducing all women to a lower species in the animal kingdom.¬† A mule is the offspring between a male donkey and a female horse, and Bavaria have risen to the occasion, calling on FIFA to ” stop intimidating Dutch dressed female supporters.”

While there doesn’t appear any legislation tackling the length or cut of women’s dresses in South Africa, and the only place where this kind of thing would raise a stir on the continent is Malawi,¬† the new pro-FIFA legislation appears to outlaw certain types of branding with regard to clothing apparel in particular “ambush marketing”.

A nefarious term which doesn’t describe much — both marketing and branding are completely different activities. For instance, where does the market begin and end? Is our Freedom up for sale? As the old adage goes, “that government governs best which governs least” and “keep government¬† outside the bedroom” —¬† the question mark remains as to how far the law extends to the neither regions of the female anatomy?¬† If the labels were on the inside, who can complain?

Only a moral prude with deviant thought patterns like the plutocrats in FIFA would stoop this low and the law may seriously run awry defining what is (and what isn’t) a dress in the process and fashion viz vi. sport as far as women are concerned.

So, no, Mr Blatter, this isn’t an ambush, its an invasion of privacy and denial of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution.

My advice to FIFA fans:  cut out your labels. Wear no-name brands and pray to god you not caught with a no-name brand with the colour Orange.

Holland national colours banned by FIFA and SA police

OVER-zealous South African police have arrested 36 Dutch women for wearing the Holland national colours. Orange is the colour associated with the Dutch royal family, in particular, the house of Orange-Nassau. An SAPS spokesperson says the arrests are in connection with “ambush marketing” since¬† the dresses were bought by a Dutch beer company and constitute an offence under special legislation enacted under pressure from FIFA. “We view ambush marketing in a very serious light and we urge people not to embark on these ambush campaigns,” police said in a statement.

According to About.Com, “The lineage of the current dynasty — the House of Oranje-Nassau — dates back to Willem van Oranje (William of Orange). But while the color orange has royal roots in the Netherlands, today it symbolizes a broader pride in the country and in being Dutch.”

South Africa shares history with Holland. The Orange Free State was one of the country’s provinces, during the last republic.¬† Although the colour Orange was dropped when the Orange Free State became the Free State,¬† and the national flag, known as the Y-Front, turned from Orange to Red, the colour¬† still carries an emotional resonance, especially with expatriots living abroad, and a large local Dutch population.

South Africa has about 15000 immigrants from the Netherlands, all of whom support their national team and wear Orange at least once a year on Queens Day. There is also a large number of Afrikaners and “Boers” who associate the colour with the history of the Cape, for example, Jan Van Riebeeck was a dutchman and the Cape was a Dutch colony until the British occupation.

A Fifa spokesperson added insult to injury by describing the women as nothing more than “advertising mules”. According to Wikipedia, a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. It appears two women were detained overnight while the rest were allowed to sign an admission of guilt and pay a fine. According to the Cape Argus, Mirthe Nieuwpoort and Barbara Castelein appeared in Johannesbug Magistrates Court yesterday¬† and were let out on R10 000 bail. They are to appear back in court on June 22.

The Dutch Foreign Minister,¬† Maxime Verhaagen reportedly phoned his South African counterpart and said: “The charges and the arrest of the two women disproportionate and incorrect.”