FIFA, the International Federation Soccer Association which is in charge of awarding lucrative World Cup hosting rights and promoting soccer worldwide, has longstanding sponsorship relationships and contracts with some of the largest global corporations. FIFA is supported by hundreds of millions of sponsorship dollars; however, the organization’s sponsorship relationships are being challenged by recent events, and sponsors are making their displeasure with the organization known. The May 27 indictment of nine top FIFA officials by the U.S. Department of Justice for corruption highlights scandals as one of the major risks facing sponsors. Compounding this most recent scandal is the ongoing controversy around conditions in Qatar, the planned site of the 2022 World Cup, where, reportedly, workers helping to build World Cup facilities are dying as a result of unsafe building conditions. After unsuccessfully attempting to distance himself from the scandals, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, announced his resignation on June 2.
Continue Reading FIFA Fame to Shame – How Brands Can Protect against Potential Reputational Harm Resulting from Relationships with Scandalized Organizations

While March Madness has cooled down, the news around fantasy sports keeps heating up.  We recently wrote about the National Advertising Division (NAD) decision in the dispute between the two leading daily fantasy sports sites, DraftKings and FanDuel.  ESPN is reportedly in talks with DraftKings to invest $250 million in the company.  For years, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has offered free-to-play fantasy baseball, football, and the popular NCAA bracket challenge, among many other games.  Now, under the reported deal, ESPN would receive a 20% stake in DraftKings, while DraftKings would sign a three-year, $500 million advertising commitment with ESPN, giving DraftKings priority advertising placement on ESPN’s platforms.

Although fantasy sports appear to be widely accepted by the public (and most regulators) nationwide, this move represents a significant step in the legitimization of monetized fantasy sports.  However, fantasy sports operators, especially daily fantasy sports sites, continue to face legal questions, most prominently whether fantasy sports are permissible under state and federal law and whether certain advertising used in connection with the sites is false and deceptive.


Continue Reading ESPN’s Fantasy Fulfilled? Network Reportedly Nearing Purchase of Significant Stake in Fantasy Sports Site DraftKings

We love a good March Madness legal blog (see here and here and here)  and NAD gave us some great fodder this month deciding a case between two large daily fantasy sports league websites.   This one wasn’t exactly an upset like so many of the games this year leading to the Sweet 16.   DraftKings claimed it was the “largest US-based destination for daily fantasy sports.”  FanDuel cried foul.  There was no dispute that FanDuel is larger by a significant margin.  The issue was whether the company was US or non-US based, the key factor which would render the claim either literally true or literally false.  This case is a riff on Made in USA analysis.  Instead of focusing on where a good is manufactured, including its component parts, this case looked to the right definition for determining where a corporation is based.  The NAD noted that consumers “often care very much about the domestic nature of products that they purchase, and such sentiments are likely to also be felt about services that they patronize.  For example, for consumers concerned about unemployment in the United States, the fact that a competing company’s labor force resides in another country may be quite important when deciding which company’s website to patronize.”  As an aside, we are not so sure there are consumers who would base a purchase decision on where key executives sit or where key corporate decision are made, as opposed to where a company’s employees reside.  That said, there is certainly an advantage in claiming to be the largest or No. 1, as it may well convey a message that a company has passed the test by rising to the top in terms of market share.   And it is not unusual for a company to try to create a category in which it can be the champion.  NAD said such a claim is particularly impactful in this case because “consumers are attracted to ‘larger’ daily fantasy sports websites because they have larger pools of players and prizes.”
Continue Reading Fantasy League Competitors Battle on the NAD Court for Decision Over Who Can Claim “Largest US-Based Website”

It is almost football season and the FTC tries to stay seasonal; around this time in 2012, it announced a settlement with football mouthguard manufacturer Brain-Pad regarding unsubstantiated concussion prevention claims.  Subsequently, the FTC has sent warning letters to other manufacturers of sporting equipment regarding concussion prevention claims.  This year, however, the FTC has called a different play.  On August 21, the FTC announced that it had sent warning letters to five major retailers regarding the FTC’s concerns regarding concussion protection claims for athletic mouthguards made on the retailers’ websites.  These retailers appear to have been repeating claims that the manufacturers of the products made on their packaging. 
Continue Reading FTC’s Letters to Retailers Regarding Concussion-Related Products Has Us Scratching Our Heads

Dueling Driver Campaigns Missing the Fairway with the NAD: Thoughts on How to Avoid the Sand-Traps Going Forward

Their drivers consistently face-off on the green. Now two of golf’s leading names in equipment have gone head-to-head on a different course: the fairways of the NAD, with Taylor Made and Callaway filing competing challenges with the

As the anticipation for the Olympics grows, companies big and small look to grab the attention of these fans by associating themselves with the games. For the Olympics, the host organizing committee, individual country committees, and television partners this means big business by selling sponsorships and licensing use of their intellectual property. But as recent

Healing on the Streets (HOTS) recently went up against the ASA, a British self-regulatory advertising watchdog and lost, in a case that demonstrates the difference having a First Amendment makes. HOTS promoted a leaflet on its website that said:

“NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction …