As Scotland’s national football team prepares for the opening match of the European Football Championship 2024 ("Euros"), numerous brands have gotten behind Scotland to support them while also promoting their product ranges. Brands such as Irn Bru have already successfully capitalised on the Euros by releasing memorable television adverts in support of the Scottish national team which have been received warmly by fans across the country.

While many brands will also be looking to promote their products and services alongside the championship, they should consider what steps they are required to take in order to ensure their promotions are compliant with the law and applicable regulations.

Following on from our first blog on the key IP considerations for Euro 2024, our second blog of this three part series provides some other helpful reminders for companies looking to promote the "greatest football team" at the Euros.

Advertising Codes

In the UK, the CAP Code for non-broadcast adverts and BCAP Code for broadcast adverts requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful.

The UK's advertising authority, the Advertising Standard's Authority ("ASA") has recently released a notice to remind advertisers to comply with the applicable advertising codes during the Euros. Key highlights for advertisers to watch out for:

  • ads falsely implying official endorsement will fall foul of the rules;
  • references to adult activity such as gambling or alcohol consumption are heavily regulated so tread carefully; and
  • ads which focus on racial, cultural or national stereotypes, will be heavily scrutinised.

Advertisers should familiarise themselves with the BCAP and CAP Code to avoid reputational damage and to maintain consumer trust. Breaching the applicable advertising codes can not only damage brand reputation but result in a referral to Trading Standards, which has the power to raise legal action against non-compliant advertisers.

Consumer Protection Regulations

Adhering to consumer protection regulations is vital. This includes being clear and honest about the product or services that are being promoted. Under the applicable consumer regulations, companies are prevented from practices which mislead or harass consumers by leaving out important information from adverts and including false or deceptive messaging.

Following the Euros in 2016, which was held in France, the ASA upheld a complaint against Curry's PC World for its misleading adverts which suggested that the competition could be watched in ultra-high definition (despite such 4K graphics being relatively uncommon).

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 may also be triggered if an advertiser makes out to be associated with an event (e.g. the Euros) without actually being an official sponsor or partner of that event.

Consider Other Jurisdiction's Laws on Advertising

Advertisers should ensure that they are complying not only with UK laws and regulations, but also the rules on advertising within other jurisdictions. Event-specific legislation and local laws, such as Germany’s stringent competition regulations, must be considered to ensure advertisements are compliant in all the countries that they appear.

Ambush marketing - where brands seek to associate themselves with an event without official sponsorship - also comes with its own set of challenges. In 2020, the retailer Zalando displayed a large poster in the same square as the official UEFA Football Village with the text "who will be the winner?" and the flags of all 24 participants. The Italian Competition Authority fined Zalando €100,000 for breaching Italian legislation prohibiting such "ambush marketing".

Companies should be aware that UEFA's ticketing terms have strict prohibitions on exploiting marketing or promotional activities at the event. Any violation of these terms would constitute a breach of contract.

Celebrity Endorsements

Advertisers should ensure they have secured the relevant rights to use celebrities' images (or their lookalikes) where they intend to do so, to endorse their brand. Unauthorized use can result in significant legal claims and actions for damages, as highlighted by the $30 million legal action raised by footballer, Pele, against Samsung for the use of a man within their advert which "very closely resembled Pele".

Aligning with celebrities can also carry the risk of reputational damage if they become involved in controversies. Brands should consider the long-term implications of such endorsements and review their contracts to ensure they have the relevant protections in place.

Other Forms of Promotion (Social media and Podcasts)

In the digital age, leveraging social media and streaming platforms can amplify a campaign’s reach and engagement. Any adverts on social media or within podcasts must clearly be identifiable as adverts.

Podcasters should also consider recent Guidance by the ASA on adverts within podcasts and use terms such as "sponsored" and "paid for advertisements" within their adverts to allow users to differentiate between paid for ads and the rest of the surrounding content or unpaid consumer reviews.

Promoting Scotland at the Euros offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with passionate fans and leverage the national team's success. Advertisers should be aware of the various regulatory regimes that apply to such promotions. If you would like to discuss anything raised within this blog, please contact Andy Nolan, Calum Lavery or your usual Brodies contact.

Contributors

Andy Nolan

Partner

Calum Lavery

Senior Solicitor

Clare O'Toole

Solicitor

Ally Burr

Associate

Catriona Salton

Solicitor

Clara Wilson

Trainee Solicitor