World Cup Marketing Mania - from Voodoo to Vibrator
A voodoo doll with five pins and the national emblems of all your enemy teams. Toilet paper with World Cup trivia. Pork slices emblazoned with a soccer player dribbling down the pitch.
These are just a few of the unofficial World Cup-related items available in German stores and on German Web sites as merchants try to cash in on World Cup mania before the month-long tournament kicks off in Germany on June 9.
"Put a charm on your favourite team with this special set. It includes one voodoo doll, 34 national emblems and five needles. Weaken any opponents: Simply attach the emblem, stick in the needles and off you go," the description says.
But the maker warns there is "No guarantee!" it will work.
One can also catch up on World Cup trivia while perched on the throne thanks to toilet paper with printed questions and answers about World Cup history.
One question on the toilet paper asks who won the first World Cup in 1930. The paper provides the correct answer -- Uruguay.
But the encyclopaedic wiping paper provides the incorrect answer to least one of its own questions. It says there have been a total of seven World Cups since 1930, but the answer is 17.
The theme cannot be missed at one of Germany's leading electronics and home appliance chains. Among the World Cup-inspired items available are a soccer-ball radio and CD player and a vacuum cleaner decorated with the familiar black and white pentagons and hexagons.
In Berlin, it's hard to find a pizza delivery service without a soccer deal. One pizza place has a "World Cup" offer good until the tournament ends -- three pizzas (a "Salami", an "Atlantic" and a "Hawaii") and five litres of beer.
Only 15 companies were awarded the right to market goods with the official World Cup logo and FIFA, the world soccer organisation, is on the lookout for any piracy.
But these marketers of unofficial World Cup goods are careful to avoid anything that would open themselves up to a FIFA legal challenge.
They simply include soccer balls, pitches, goalposts and soccer phrases -- all of it in the public domain and not subject to any trademark laws -- in the hope that the World Cup euphoria taking hold of Germany will make their products irresistible.
With two weeks left until the World Cup starts, it is almost impossible to escape the soccer theme.
One German supermarket chain superimposes pictures of soccer balls over run-of-the-mill advertisements of pork steaks, beer kegs, Swiss cheese, frozen spinach, barbecue sets, plastic food containers, biscuits, canned sausages and canned corn.
Makers of sausage, virtually a staple food in Germany, have also got in on the act. In some supermarkets you can find soccer ball sausages and slices of pork luncheon meat that show a soccer player dribbling a ball down the pitch.
Other soccer items at supermarkets include: "soup strikers" -- instant soup with soccer ball noodles; "half-time" pizza with Berlin curry sausage; crunchy snacks shaped like soccer balls and players. One can even buy a "World Cup" of potato salad.