In Brazil, Volkswagen AG is the official team sponsor, but the auto leader had to take action to head off a potential issue involving a “competitor’s” ad. According to a report, Brazil’s soccer federation (CBF) promoted the Hyundai Motor Corporation as partly connected to the team’s success at the last World Cup. It’s alleged that a complaint was filed to Hyundai, a South Korea company, that one particular marketing campaign promised an additional year’s warranty for anyone in Brazil who bought a Hyundai—assuming the team won the sixth World Cup.
Alerted by Volkswagen, CBF took quick action, telling Hyundai that the ploy was a “misuse” of the team’s intellectual property. An email statement from Volkswagen noted that “Volkswagen do Brasil is in contact with CBF to clarify and resolve this issue.” Additionally, the statement reminded readers that VW has been the official auto partner of the team since 2009 and was promised exclusive rights for promotional activities. Hyundai simply stepped over the line.
The Hyundai campaign chose to play on the Portuguese word “hexa,” which translates to “sixth,” and made promises to everyone in the country that, should the team win, what’s normally a five-year warranty will become six. This is only for cars sold between January 1 and July 13, 2014. A spokesperson for Hyundai, Meeyoung Song, chose not to comment for the entire auto maker. However, the head legal official of the CBF, Carlos Eugenio, has officially asked Hyundai to stop the campaign.
Officially dubbed the “Hexagarantia,” the ad can still be found on YouTube and has garnered thousands of hits. The company’s official website is also still offering the promotion—however, Volkswagen isn’t worried. It already manufactures the best-selling car in Brazil, the Gol, which was named after Brazil’s passion for soccer. In fact, it’s been the best selling car in the country for 27 consecutive years.
While VW and the Gol clearly have no real competition, it’s still paramount that Volkswagen steps in when they see something awry—especially when it involves intellectual infringement. Hyundai is indeed an official sponsor of FIFA and can associate itself with the tournament as a whole, but it can’t play favorites and can’t single out Brazil. While it obviously could have worked out well for Hyundai, there’s only room for one top-selling car in Brazil, and that spot is taken.
Every year, the FIFA sponsors pay about $350 million combined for those incredible sponsorships. However, Volkswagen and Brazil have been a team for so long (going on three decades) that it’s impossible to know if VW is the best seller in the country because of the sponsorship or if Brazilians simply have great taste when it comes to both sports and automobiles. Either way, it’s gearing up to be an exciting season, and VW is on top of things to make sure it’s a fair game every step of the way.