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Tournaments St George's Park - Battle for Softdrink Supremacy Begins Despite SA Legislation
Battle for Softdrink Supremacy Begins Despite SA Legislation
Jodie Ginsberg

Johannesburg – Battle has commenced in the war between official Cricket World Cup sponsors and rival advertisers – with a full-page newspaper advertisement from drinks giant Coca-Cola trumpeting its support for the game.

Coke officially sponsored the World Cup in India seven years ago but battled publicly with Pepsi – the official sponsors of this year’s tournament in South Africa – which it accused of hijacking its advertising and merchandising space.

In the weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper yesterday, Coke boasted of its support for sport worldwide and for cricketing events in South Africa and elsewhere.

“Coke’s investment in South African cricket endures beyond the marketing glitz and hype of flagship international events,” Coke said in a full-page advert.

Coke pointed out it sponsored the Khaya Majola Under-19 Cricket Week, which focuses on developing the game among young South Africans.

“Development” was chosen by the tournament’s organisers as the by-word for this year’s World Cup.

“Many of the country’s national heroes were identified at these events. Coke was there, and will continue to be there for future generations of sportsmen,” Coke said of its annual cricket week.

So worried were organisers of the 2003 Cricket World Cup about unscrupulousness between the drinks giants, South Africa was requested and agreed to pass landmark laws last year to outlaw so-called “ambush marketing”. Parties masquerading as an official sponsor could face jail terms.

Nor are fans spared the crackdown: Supporters who turn up to watch a match in clothing branded by rival advertisers could be asked to take it off before entering the stadium.

Even water could cause offence. Supporters have been told they can only bring unbranded bottles of water into matches.

Until last month, India’s top players – who earn far more from advertising than from playing – threatened not to play at the event. They refused to accept a suspension of their individual sponsorships, arguing that the ICC had no right to sell their image rights.

The Herald
February 8, 2003.

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