Volkswagen seeks clarification over Hyundai World Cup promotion

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group, the sponsor of Brazil's soccer team, has contacted the country's soccer federation for clarification over a promotion by Hyundai Motor Co. linked to the team's performance at this year's World Cup.

The soccer body, the CBF, has complained to the South Korean automaker over an advertising campaign that promises an extra year's warranty to new-car buyers in Brazil should the team clinch a record-extending sixth World Cup. The CBF says it's a misuse of the national squad's intellectual property.

Earlier this week the CBF said its top legal official Carlos Eugenio contacted Hyundai and asked it to pull the campaign.

"Volkswagen Brazil is in contact with the CBF to clarify and resolve this issue," Europe's biggest carmaker said. The German automaker added that the company has been the automotive partner of the Brazilian team since 2009, giving it exclusive rights to use the association in promotional activities and official communications.

Hyundai is an official sponsor of soccer's world governing body FIFA and is allowed to use branding associated with the tournament, although the CBF says it can't use references to the Brazil team in its promotion.

Volkswagen produces Brazil's best-selling car, the subcompact Gol or Goal, which is named after the country's love of soccer, and has been the market’s top seller for 27 straight years, according to VW.

Guarantee extension

The Hyundai advertisement plays on the word "hexa," meaning "sixth" in Portuguese. It promises the company will increase its usual five-year guarantee to six on new cars sold between Jan. 1 and July 13 if the host nation wins the competition this year.

The advertisement for the "HEXAGARANTIA" remains on Hyundai Brazil's YouTube channel, and has been viewed more than 85,000 times. There's also an official Web site for the promotion.

Hyundai spokeswoman Meeyoung Song said the company isn't commenting on the matter.

The CBF made 235.6 million reais ($100 million) from sponsors in 2012, according to its latest annual report. FIFA's sponsors last year paid about $350 million for World Cup-related partnerships. The month long tournament, which is costing Brazil 25.6 billion reais, begins in Sao Paulo on June 12.

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