Linford Christie

5 creative and perhaps controversial ways brands made it into sports 

Photo: AF/AFP/Getty Images

With LeBron James signing a life-long deal with Nike, we take a look at some of the most innovative, crazy and controversial marketing and sponsorship attempts sportspeople and companies have tried over the years

1. Linford Christie

At the 1996 Olympics Games in Altanta, the British defending 100m champion arrived at a press conference wearing Puma branded contact lenses. Official sponsors Reebok were not happy, but Puma had what they wanted – their brand plastered over all of the major newspapers and a campaign that has made it into university marketing books around the world. 

2. Nicklas Bendtner 

© YouTube/Paddy Power

In the 2012 European Championships “Lord Bendtner” pulled off a very cheeky piece of marketing for Paddy Power as he revealed his briefs to the world. The Danish striker was banned for one match and fined €100,000 for displaying the sponsored pants. 

3. Mario Götze 

Mario Götze


The German international sparked controversy in 2013 when he wore a T-shirt with a highly visible Nike logo during his official Bayern Munich unveiling. Bayern sponsors and co-owners Adidas (who own 8% of the clubs shares) were not amused. Oops… 

4. Bavaria Beer

© YouTube // 2010WorldCupMoments

Dutch brewers Bavaria ambushed the 2010 World Cup by buying a huge section of tickets and dressing girls in bright orange clothing. The girls were then told to draw attention to themselves by singing and dancing. Official sponser Budweiser and World Cup officials were not impressed, the girls got off lightly, as they escaped jail and were ordered to leave the stadium. The two organisers behind the campaign were no so lucky. It an another twist, it turned out that the tickets had belonged to former footballer and ITV sports pundit Robbie Earle, who had passed the tickets meant for family and friends, to a third party. Earle was sacked immediately for his involvement. 

5. Mario Gomez 

© YouTube

Mario Gomez caused quite a stir in 2009 with his celebration after scoring the winner in Stuttgart’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. With the ball in the back of the net, the former German international opened up an imaginary can, took a sip and flapped his arms as if they were wings, allegedly alluding to his then sponsor, Red Bull. The striker denied this at the time that, claiming that he “just wanted to greet his friends in the crowd.“

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12 2015

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