Last week, some models in rubber catsuits promoting UltraTune tyres caught our eye for being a little, shall we say, off, but the ads also caught the eye of Octagon’s head of strategy Adam Hodge. He told B&T it appears the ads are more than just offensive…
Whilst I personally agree with the current criticism of the lazy objectification in the Ultra Tune ‘Get Into Wimbledon’ spot, I think we have overlooked another major issue.
It’s potentially illegal.
This advert is run in Australian Open airtime (which carries a significant premium to normal spot times) and uses tennis props (ball and racquets) with a clear intention to suggest a relationship to the sport of tennis.
Which is fine.
So far…… no legal issues.
Then they step over a very clear line.
They use the word “Wimbledon” and describe a sales promotion that has a trip to Wimbledon as it’s prize.
Now, yes, there is a lovely town in the south west of London called Wimbledon, and I’m sure that the first defense would be that the trip is simply to this place…. However the overt use of tennis imagery and the specific placement of the ad in a tennis broadcast event indicates clear intent to ‘pass off’ as an official partner of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) owned Championships.
I can see no such partnership between Ultra Tune and the club published on either brands website. And having a very good understanding of the investment required in such a sponsorship it’s not something you hide if you have paid for it.
Whilst some event names are flat out protected by trademark (eg: Olympics, SuperBowl), Wimbledon has struggled to register the name itself due to the fact it is a geographical place and associated with other team/brands (football teams and Wombles come to mind!).
This does not mean they cannot protect their IP against direct ambush attacks like this.
AELTC is not afraid to aggressively protect its IP, as seen by its response to fans streaming live via Periscope during the 2015 event.
The sexism outrage (which I 100 per cent agree with) is somewhat subjective. The passing off issue is a matter of law.
I wonder how long it will be until someone at AELTC starts searching for the number of the Ultra Tune Marketing Director?