Top Shows

Don't mention the you-know-what!

Published: 8:45PM Wednesday August 11, 2010

Reporter: Gordon Harcourt

If you plan on using the words Rugby, World and Cup - be very careful!

Did you see those models who were thrown out of a football World Cup match in South Africa for wearing orange dresses?  It's called "ambush marketing" because it was a stunt for a beer company which wasn't a World Cup sponsor.  

Two organisers were actually arrested and charged under a tough South African law.  

Couldn't happen here, right?  Wrong!  Welcome to planet MEMA ...

It's the Major Events Management Act 2007, passed almost exclusively because of the Rugby World Cup.  You might be amazed at what it allows.

- "Clean [of advertising] transport routes" up to 5km away from match venues. Even ads outside the zone but visible from it are outlawed.

- Enforcement officers can exercise search warrants and seize "any thing".  That includes clothing and banners.

- Most strikingly, it means you are not allowed to use the words "Rugby", "World" and "Cup" if it suggests an association with the big event.

The MEMA doesn't only cover the you-know-what.  The World Rowing Champs at Karapiro in October are also a Major Event.  CEO Tom Mayo says sponsors shell out big money, and we need to protect them in order to get and keep major events.

The Act also protects the public - from fake merchandise and ticketing, and ticket scalping.  But it's pretty obscure, and a lot of people are in for a rude surprise - like John Porteous.

Kingsland Rugby Club
John sells and rents cars, and runs an online social network called, named after a now defunct club which used to have Eden Park as its home ground.  

He put some advertising for the website on his rental cars, and it included the words "Rugby World Cup 2011". Bad mistake John. 

Out of the blue he got an email from the people who protect that brand.  Cease and desist!  He was taken aback, but he sees their point and has removed the offending wording.

Frogs in NZ travel agency
Sebastien Michel set up his french-speaking agency back in 2001, and he's been publishing a french languange travel guide and website ever since.  They both include information about what's happening in New Zealand. 

Now, as you can imagine, if you're planning to travel here next year then it's pretty important to know about you-know-what.  But Frogs in NZ isn't an official RWC2011 travel agency, so they probably can't use the you-know-what words. 

By the way, Fair Go and other media outlets can use the words "Rugby World Cup" because there's an exclusion for reporting news and information.  We'd get into trouble if it was 'advertorial' copy, sponsored by somebody not associated with the RWC.

What about a school sausage sizzle?
Fair Go set up a sausage sizzle fundraiser at Edendale School, a few mintues walk down the road from Eden Park.   They'll be opening the gates for parking next year, so a sizzle is just the sort of thing they might do. 

We designed a sign for it - EDENDALE SCHOOL WORLD CUP RUGBY SAUSAGE SIZZLE FUNDRAISER.  Well that's pretty obvious. It's also illegal under the MEMA. 

And it's not only the you-know-what words, it's also because we included the silhouette - yes, the silhouette only! - of the you-know-what trophy, the Webb Ellis Trophy.  Those words are controlled too, so be careful!

Renting my house?
It's the same deal.  If you plan to rent out the house for some silly money, then be careful.  Lawyer Katrina Crooks from James & Wells Intellectual Property says "you can refer to the time when the RWC is taking place, but you're not actually allowed to use those words."

The RWC people say it's OK to say your house is available during the RWC - that's descriptive.  It's not OK to say "Rugby World Cup Accommodation".  They say the key thing is not necessarily use of the words - it's suggesting an association with the Tournament.

Don't make a $150K mistake
The maximum fine for breaching the MEMA is a fine of $150,000.   So, if in doubt, get legal advice.  There's also a pretty comprehensive online guide put out by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Thanks to Edendale School, Auckland
Our thanks to the staff and pupils of Edendale School, for doing such a great job on our sausage sizzle.
"Mr Spoilsport" from Sue, Grabbit & Run was played by Mr Zane Wilson, and the sausage sizzle team was:
Joanna Laxon
Kaveesha Ranmuthu
Brooke Harris
Shakthi Singh
Charlotte Shirreffs
Rohit Rajagopal
Rowena Dan-Lualua
Xemos Nicholls Plowman
Benjamin MacKay
Particular thanks to Rose