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Volkswagen Seeks Clarification Over Hyundai World Cup Promotion

Brazil team sponsor Volkswagen AG (VOW) says it contacted the country’s soccer federation for clarification over a promotion by Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) 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.

“Volkswagen do Brasil is in contact with the CBF to clarify and resolve this issue,” Europe’s biggest carmaker said in an e-mailed statement. It added that the company has since 2009 been the automotive partner of the Brazilian team, giving it exclusive rights to use the association in promotional activities and official communications.

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. Hyundai spokeswoman Meeyoung Song said the company, South Korea’s biggest automaker, isn’t commenting on the matter.

Earlier this week the CBF said its top legal official Carlos Eugenio contacted Hyundai and asked it to pull the campaign, arguing that it’s using intellectual property that belongs to the CBF.

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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 website for the promotion.

Volkswagen produces Brazil’s best-selling car. The Gol, named for the country’s love of soccer, has been the top seller for 27 straight years, according to the German automaker.

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. The Brazilian body 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 monthlong tournament, which is costing Brazil 25.6 billion reais, begins in Sao Paulo on June 12.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net; Jay Beberman at jbeberman@bloomberg.net Peter-Joseph Hegarty

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