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Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Fifa orders South African airline to drop 'ambush' ad

A kulula.com plane
The airline is known for its funny and colourful adverts. Photo: kulula.com

A South African budget airline has pulled its tongue-in-cheek advert after a Fifa complaint that it infringed its trademark during the 2010 World Cup.

kulula.com's ad described the firm as the "Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What". It also had pictures of stadiums, vuvuzelas and national flags.

But Fifa said the airline could not use the symbols - even the word "South Africa", kulula.com's spokeswoman said.

Fifa, however, said the images taken together were "ambush marketing".

'Pushing boundary'

"For the record, Fifa did not tell Kulula that they could not use soccer balls, or the word 'South Africa', or the Cape Town stadium, or the national flag or vuvuzelas," said a statement from football's world governing body.

It was the combination of these elements which were banned, the statement said.

Fifa said the advert breached South African law "by seeking to gain a promotional benefit for the kulula brand by creating an unauthorised association with the 2010 Fifa World Cup".

However, Heidi Brauer, a marketing manager of Comair Limited, a holding company for kulula.com and British Airways in South Africa, told the BBC:

"We're surprised by this Fifa complaint but have to be respectful because Fifa has very stringent rules."

But she said that many people across the country had criticised Fifa's move, saying that football's world governing organisation did not own South Africa's soccer stadiums, soccer balls or vuvuzelas (a South African plastic trumpet used by football fans).

However, Mrs Brauer admitted that the airline's advert - which was pulled last week - was "challenging" and "pushing the boundary".

The budget airline is known for its quirky adverts.

Fifa has a history of protecting its image rights around World Cups.

The month-long World Cup kicks off in South Africa on 11 June.



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