New DK marketing laws cause headache for sponsors, DBU warns
Danish consumer ombudsman Forbrugerombudsmanden has rejected criticism of new marketing laws that prohibit the display of gambling brands alongside the logos of banks, despite concerns the regulations will harm football clubs across the country.
The amendments to the country's marketing regulations came into effect from 1 July, and prevent products such as loans and credit cards being promoted alongside gambling products. This aims to avoid suggesting a link between short-term funding options being used to fund gambling.
The issue was brought to light after the Danish Football Union (DBU) questioned the Forbrugerombudsmanden how this change would impact its existing sponsorship deals with financial services group Arbejdernes Landsbank and Oddset, a betting brand of majority state-owned lottery operator Danske Spil.
The Ombudsman informed the DBU that logos for Arbejdernes Landsbank and Oddset can no longer appear together on any surfaces, including players’ and coaches’ clothes, and interview backdrops. Arbejdernes Landsbank does not offer short-term loans, but as a bank, it offers a range of lending services, meaning it falls in the scope of the law.
The DBU warned that this interpretation could harm its relationship with both Arbejdernes Landsbank and Oddset, while the new law could also have negative implications on football clubs across Denmark that are sponsored by both gambling operators and banks.
Oddset, for example, recently partnered Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF) which is also a partner of Arbejdernes Landsbank, adding to an existing deal with Aalborg BK, which is partnered with bank Spar Nord.
However, Forbrugerombudsmanden stood by the law, saying that the display of banking-related and gambling logos within any vicinity would be classed as in breach of the law.
The ombudsman said that if the logos appeared on different surfaces that were then pictured together – such as one logo on an interview backdrop, and the other on players’ kit – this would also be regarded as a violation of the law.
“Forbrugerombudsmanden notes it is expressly stated in the draft legislation that the marketing of consumer loan companies’ names, logos or other characteristics is covered by the ban, regardless of where the marketing takes place,” the ombusdman said.
In response, DBU director Jakob Jensen said while the governing body will abide by the law, he was “surprised” that legislation would impact two companies – Arbejdernes Landsbank and Danske Spill – that are part-owned either by the Danish state or by its population.
“We are surprised that the legislation is formulated so broadly that it must affect the close cooperation we have, both for the Danish national football teams and for the clubs,” Jensen said. “At the same time, we note that several political commentators this summer have stated that this is not the intention of the legislation.
“DBU has had Arbejdernes Landsbank Bank and Oddset/Danske Spil as partners for both the men’s national team and the women’s national team for several years,” he added. “That is why it concerns us that this [change in law] should suddenly have such a detrimental effect as the ombudsman's response suggests.”