Since When Do Major Sporting Events Govern Countries?


Making my first coffee today in the office at 8AM I noticed a story on the front page of the NZ Herald. Funny I can’t seem to find it online, but there were loads of results on the web’s news pages.I’ll share the Huffington Post story here because I can’t find the NZ Herald story online for some strange reason.

Basically the story is that Dutch Brewery Bavaria has been selling orange mini skirts to soccer fans as an ambush marketing stunt.  The clothes were available for sale in the Netherlands and as a very nationalistic country, it is normal behaviour for Dutch people to wear Orange on major occasions such as sporting events and also for children on Queen’s Birthday. So many Dutch people bought these skirts and wore them to the FIFA World Cup match against Denmark. The clothing had a tiny little label that would be very difficult to see with the Bavaria brand on it.

That wasn’t the problem though. The problem was that they allegedly paid a group of 36 blondes to wear them at the match, which is against the rules of sponsorship, where Budweiser are the only official beer sponsor of the map and have exclusive marketing rights. The story in the Herald said that 2 of the 36 women were arrested and charged and if convicted could face fines from 1,000 Rand to a term in prison. Subsequently they were released on Bail and FIFA has said they will not be charging the individuals, they will be bringing charges against the Bavaria Brewery itself.

As a marketer, I appreciate that brands pay outrageously high sponsorship fees to be able to advertise at major sporting events and expect protection, but how far should they be allowed to go? If I like a brand, why shouldn’t I be allowed to wear their clothing. I play poker and have played in tournaments sponsored by Jack Daniels and have won Jack Daniels clothing. If a group of my friends who also won their branded clothing to an event, could I be in trouble? If the organisers of the poker tournament encouraged me to wear their clothing at the event, would they be in trouble? Remember that the logo on the clothing, these 36 girls were wearing was only on a tiny tag that if you wanted to read it, you would have to get so close to the garment that you might get arrested on other charges.

Next year we have the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the International Rugby Board is running by the same rules. According to the IRB even the letters RWC in succession have been trade marked. In effect I could be breaking the law just be blogging the letters RWC. When did it become possible for a sporting body to prosecute people or businesses for using 3 letters in succession. I mean, we only have 26 letters in our alphabet! So what if they were the initials for your company? Are you breaking the law? If I worked for or supported the Roger Wright Centre in Christchurch, and they had corporate clothing, I wouldn’t be allowed to wear it to any World Cup matches in New Zealand.

So what happens to other companies or organisations that use RWC in their name? Have they lost the rights to their business names? What happens if their staff want to be proud of the company and go to a match in company clothing? RWC stands for Redwood City in California. It stands for Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester New York which has a proud sporting history.

I think this is very scary and another example of large corporations wanting to own and control everything. Some of those corporations in the drug world may now own the patents to some of my DNA!

Anyway, before you go to any of the matches in South Africa this year or in New Zealand next year, make sure you don’t have any clothing showing off any brands that haven’t paid the IRB for the use of the letters RWC or any of the other trademarked groups of letters. They probably won’t have Sky in the holding cells.

Haptic Virtual Reality Suits


Lots of people escape the world through the internet, some with games, perhaps web environments like Second Life, but what’s happened to Virtual Reality that promised so much so many years ago. From what I understand the only thing really holding things back is the cost.

One thing that I would love to see is Sport VR. Imagine if you could don a suit and be your favorite All Black or soccer star. You could see what they see and feel (desensitised off course) the tackles and the thrill of the game.

There are already a range of body suits such as the Inlabs Motion Capture Suit that can be used to capture body motion data for a variety of purposes. These can be used for sports medicine, training and biomechanical research. Forms of this technology have been used to help develop movie models for animation, allowing models to look like they are real by taking motion information from people.

VR is used by the military to train pilots and the US Navy has VR parachute trainers so that they can experience everything, the visuals, the thump when the chute opens and the harness touch points grip your body.

In the future VR will support remote medicine using robots to perform surgery. In some cases the surgeon will be there, in other cases it might be through telemedicine where experts can influence or control surgery remotely from anywhere in the world with reliable broadband connections. Micro surgery is already taking place today which is far less invasive and allows recovery to be much quicker than normal.

VR would make a lot of sense in remote and dangerous locations, for example space exploration. There are major issues with space travel where the distances, event to other planets in our solar system represents years in each direction. Wouldn’t it be great if we had the dexterity (or better) of a human without having to actually send a human to Mars.

Virtual Reality is a natural progression of technology that we have already become used to. Look at the number of phones inlcuding iPhone and Windows Mobile devices from brands such as HTC which have gyroscopes that recognise which way the device is facing and automatically change the screen format accordingly. Wii fitness has become incredibly popular, combining a video game with exercise has rapidly propelled Nintendo back into leadership in the TV games world.

Worlds like Second Life, using VR could mean that the avatars become totally lifelike and the whole gaming world is in for a shakeup. Imagine all the action games where you are actually running and shooting, driving and crashing cars and feeling all the bumps and hits.

Of course the more fun this becomes the greater the risks that people will prefer VR to real life. In Japan there have been problems for a number of years where children prefer to stay in the rooms every day just living on their computers and don’t want to go into the real world. They are known as hikikimori. People like that are now appearing around the world, where virtual reality is preferable to real life.

Of course there are those who are elderly or severely disabled where VR could give them some semblance of normal experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t. Imagine being restricted to your bed or a wheelchair, but being able to experience the sensations of walking or running, or even sex.

I won’t delve too far into this, but the ultimate in safe sex could be VR sex. People who are severely disabled, or who find it difficult to find partners could have their experience without risk. It appears that they haven’t yet been manufactured in a form that is safe, but it is coming. Michael Anissimov has some good ideas and I will leave the last word to him from his accelerating future blog.

 

Support for Valerie Vili at the Olympics


This evening on the New Zealand TV One News there were complaints that Valerie would not talk to the press. Valerie is a wonderful athlete and person who gives lots of her time to the fans and the industry. I met her at a major sports event a year or so ago where she was supporting Drug Free Sport and their pledge and education program. She was so accessible to her fans and happy to sign autographs and be in photos.

She is in Beijing to win a medal and hopefully gold and given that she has trained hard for he event, she has every right to do whatever she feels she needs to do to achieve her goals. She owes the media nothing. I am loving the Olympics and TV One is doing a fantastic job with the coverage, both on TV and with the live broadband coverage. But if the athletes want to focus on winning medals and not giving interviews beforehand, don’t get prissy, respect them for sticking to their guns.

She is an awsome role model for young Kiwi athletes.

A footnote. Last night I stayed up till about 3 o’clock flicking between the All Blacks mighty win over the Springboks, the first time they have held the South African’s scoreless, while they got a magic 19 points, which was great consdering the kicking from a usually flawless Dan Carter was a little off.

Anyway, Valerie won the Gold Medal from her first shotput throw which you can watch here, and I had to restrain myself from jumping for joy and waking the rest of the household. Of course everyone got there interviews as I knew they would. Valerie will probably spend a lot of time in the rest of this year giving back to her coach and supporters.

Just another day with Orcon


For those that are following this blog, just a quick update. First of all, I still haven’t got the 2 for one movie tickets that they “send out every week”. I’ve had quite a good week until Saturday, only averaging about 2 disconnections a day, I can live with that.

I did get a bill saying I was overdue with $20 odd dollars on my account after they gave me a compensatory credit of $100 which is strange because I set up an autopayment with American Express to make sure I was always on time.

On Saturday I lost my connection 11 times and yesterday 21, but the good news is that for one of them, most Orcon subscribers lost their connections. Most of mine were in the morning when there were no olympics on the net yet, but the early evening crash was surely an ISP (not Orcon according to the voice message so it must have been Xtra) that didn’t take into account that TVNZ were showing the Olympics on TV. I watched it for a short while and planned to go back when the boxing started, but of course by then there was no connection at all.

So or those of you who couldn’t see some of the awesome streaming video on TVNZ’s website (and it was awesome while it lasted), you know how I feel. The only thing is that for me it is a regualr occurrence. I could have gone to the movies with my new 2 for 1 tickets I was promised, but they didn’t arrive, a bit like the service really.