At the beginning of the World Cup I saw in the Spanish news a video about how two Dutch women were arrested in South-Africa after the police accused them of taking part in a subliminal advertising campaign. Apparently, there was a group of 36 women wearing dresses given out for free by the Dutch beer brand Bavaria in a promotion for the World Cup 2010.
Basically the brewery’s plan was to make a big marketing campaign, and once the relationship [(cute women with orange dress) = Bavaria beer] was fixed in the minds of unsuspecting football fans, they sendt 36 good looking women to the first game of The Netherlands in the World Cup wearing that very same dress.
And what’s the point? Easy: whenever the cameras focus on the girls (and we are talking about good looking girls wearing short skirts during a football game, so it’s likely to happen) the whole country is thinking of Bavaria beer. It works like a giant billboard, but cheaper.
The idea is similar to what the Spanish whiskey brand DYC came up with for the European Basketball Championship 2009, giving away free Spanish flags with their logo printed in big letters. As I commented in another post about the whiskey campaign, this technically is a good way to dodge all the difficulties of actually advertising during the game (costs, regulations, etc.), although it presents some moral issues.
While DYC’s intention was just to gain presence during the games and the controversy generated was mainly collateral damage, Bavaria was looking to create this kind of controversy about subliminal advertising (forbidden in most countries) to be catapulted to the international news programs. They took the idea one step further, gaining presence in worldwide news for the same price: plane tickets and probably a small bill they will happily pay.
And in order to achieve their goal they developed further the formula, making it irresistible for news editors. Look at the difference between [controversy + flags with a logo + European basketball championship] and [controversy + cute girls in sexy dresses + Football World Cup]. Just ask your SEO manager what’s his choice.