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Betfair’s Controversial Volleyball Sponsorship

11 August 2011 by admin

British beach volleyball stars rent out their rears in unique advertising campaignOnline sportsbook Betfair has a new advertising campaign that is sure to get people’s attention. The company recently announced a sponsorship deal with the British Olympic female beach volleyball team. As part of the sponsorship, the sportsbook will roll out a new unique advertising campaign that will please some while offending others.

This week in London the volleyball team will take part in trial events for the Olympics. During the trial event, Betfair will be sponsoring Zara Damphney and Shauna Mullin, who will wear a special uniform that displays a quick response code. According to Betfair, this will be “the first time QR codes have been used in in-play sports advertising.”

For those unfamiliar with quick response code, it is a matrix barcode that, when scanned by a QR reader, displays hidden text, a URL or other data. In this case, during the live beach volleyball game, betters will be able to take pictures of the QR code on the players’ uniform. On their smartphone they can then use Betfair’s online gambling website to unlock the hidden page of the website that will offer a free wager on the game.

All of that sounds fun and harmless, but here’s where it gets controversial. The female beach volleyball players will be wearing the standard skimpy bikini bottoms. That QR code will be blazoned on the backside of those bikini bottoms. So that means Betfair is encouraging people at the beach volleyball games to take photos of the players’ derrieres in order to win a free wager on the game. As Betfair spokesman Andy Lulham said, what better way to test the effectiveness of a live QR code campaign than “by putting them on one of the places that is likely to get photographed the most.”

Yes, that's the QR code

Yes, that's the QR code

Women’s beach volleyball is already a controversial sport due to the sexualized nature of the game and its uniforms. Those who object to perceived objectification of women will surely cringe at this advertising campaign. On the other hand, that kind of controversy, along with the excited participation of many men, is sure to help Betfair.

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