Major Events Management Act

The FIFA Women's World Cup is quickly approaching and is expected to host large crowds across the nation.  With this comes an opportunity for supportive advertising, but sponsors and affiliates of the event will be interested in preserving their investment returns.

The Major Events Management (FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023) Order 2022 (the Order) declared that the FIFA Women's World Cup is a "major event" under the Major Events Management Act 2007 (the Act).  Anyone not officially associated with the FIFA Women's World Cup will need to avoid contravening with the Act when advertising their goods and services until 19 September 2023.

About the Major Events Management Act 2007

The purpose of the Act is to set advertising guidelines that relate to internationally significant, one off events held in New Zealand.  Principally, it prevents "ambush marketing", where businesses unfairly use a major event to increase the profile of their product or service, either by making out an official connection between their product or service and the event ("ambush marketing by association"), or by advertising their product or service to the audience of the event ("ambush marketing by intrusion").  The Act also prohibits ticketing scalping and pitch invasions.  All of this helps to preserve the value of official sponsorship for the protected events, in turn helping New Zealand to be seen as a suitable place to host more global events.

Ambush marketing by association

Under the Act, you cannot suggest that there is an association between the FIFA Women's World Cup and any products or services you provide, without permission from FWWC2023 Pty Ltd (the major event organiser).  This means you cannot, unless authorised, say or imply a connection between your business and FIFA, such as through sponsorship, distributing tickets, or any other commercial arrangement, even if qualified by a word like "unofficial" or "unauthorised".  The question to ask yourself is, "would this representation suggest to an ordinary person that there is an association with the FIFA Women's World Cup?"

The Order also prescribes "major event emblems and words", which, if used, may create a presumption that your products or services are associated with the event, so their use is more likely to contravene the Act.  These include the FIFA World Cup logos, "FIFA" and "Football Women's World Cup", and anything else contained in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Order.  There are some exceptions to this, such as where it is necessary or made by an existing organisation continuing its ordinary activities.

Ambush marketing by intrusion

On 18 April 2023, the Economic Development Minister announced the clear zones, transport routes and periods for the FIFA World Cup games.  This includes various zones and transport routes to Eden Park, Waikato Stadium, Wellington Regional Stadium, and Dunedin Stadium and around the fan festival zones in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Dunedin.  Unless authorised by FWWC2023 Pty Ltd, street trading and advertising is prohibited within these areas, between set times, on the relevant game days throughout July and August 2023.  There is an exception for businesses ordinarily trading in the zone, who are carrying on their usual activities.

A chance to get creative

The Act is not designed to prevent all advertising, and many businesses will be looking to legitimately show support and build connections with FIFA fans.  While businesses should familiarise themselves with the requirements before undertaking promotional activity, there is still plenty of scope to get creative with advertising campaigns that do not fall foul of the Act.  The key is to check the requirements during the early design of the campaign, think carefully before using any major event emblems and words, and stick to messages of support and excitement rather than association or sponsorship.

This article was co-written by Keri Johansson (senior associate) and Kat Dickins (law clerk).