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Advertising's got a bit cheeky

Did anyone catch the story about the British ladies beach volleyball squad’s latest sponsorship deal?

International betting exchange company, Betfair, snapped up the opportunity to brand the bottoms of the volleyball team at the Test London 2012 beach volleyball tournament last month. QR codes were strategically placed on the derrieres of volleyball players, with the intention that the tournament audience could capture the codes on their smartphones and be directed to the Betfair website.

The sponsorship branding was no bum deal – not for the athletes who benefited from investment, and certainly not for Betfair. Like many B2C and B2B brands, businesses are looking for novel ways of leveraging the popularity of certain sports ahead of the Olympics to get their marketing message noticed in a crowded marketplace. And what better way for Betfair to do this; combining a tongue-in-cheek advertising opportunity with the wizardry of QR codes. Regardless of the ROI the bottoms in question brought in, the campaign certainly gained Betfair brand awareness.

Some in the marketing industry hit out over the seemingly ‘degrading’ nature of Betfair’s sponsorship tactics. Possibly these arguments have been blown out of proportion? But it is of course important for all marketers to maintain both a CSR and moral duty with regards to their activity. Still – Betfair’s branding made me smile – and I’m a girl and I didn’t take offence. I guess the point is that a marketing campaign is subjective; it can’t always be scored, measured or awarded top prize to – sometimes you just like it or you don’t. A bit like beach volleyball.