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It's round, it's a ball and advertisers are chasing it

As the World Cup kicked off, every advertiser seemed to be seeking to align its brand with the beautiful game -- no matter how tenuous the connection, writes Jennifer Whitehead in this week's Brand Watch.

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BT is hoping that Jamie Redknapp can persuade more people to use its services during the tournament; Findus is trying to convince consumers that its frozen veggies will help heal any couch injuries sustained while watching games; Sainsbury's tries to make the most of England's early scheduled matches with Sven and Jamie Oliver; and the list goes on.

A bit of a hiccup for 7-Up's World Cup advertising, however. With Roy Keane back in Manchester (well, his Cheshire mansion, but near enough) after last weekend's bust-up with Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, it was reported to be reconsidering its campaign in Ireland. And over in the US, but not related to the World Cup, it was forced to remove a humorous television spot after civil rights groups complained it made light of prison rape. The ad's spokesman is walking through a prison and drops a can of 7-Up, looks at the camera and says: "I'm not picking that up". Me neither.

While England is gearing up for the World Cup, the UK also prepared for the four-day Jubilee weekend. While brands were not as keen to hitch their wagons to the Queen and her family, those who would like to see Royals abolished were exploiting the occasion. Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, launched its campaign pushing for debate on the subject.

The rise of the mobile phone claimed the scalp of BT's phonecard this week, after 21 years. Once bringing in £74m a year at their peak, in 2001 only £7.2m of the cards were sold, meaning the pre-paid call business was making a loss. BT originally introduced them to fight call-box vandalism. The existing cards will last until their expiry dates.

Last week, the boss of Pizza Hut in the US defended the American love of cheese (the food, rather than the sentiment) in the face of criticism that fast food is making the nation fat.

But the restaurant chain took its cheese pride one step further this week and launched a print campaign boasting that it would be using 100m pounds of cheese this summer. In fact, it has declared this the "Summer of Cheese".

The world's biggest dairy industry customer says it is bringing back a pizza called The Insider, a pizza that includes an entire pound of cheese. In spoof ads, executives from the fictional Dairy Management Inc admonish Pizza Hut for making the US dairy industry work so hard, with no thanks to the cows.

More American brands. Miller, the Milwaukee brewer, has been sold to South African Breweries for $5.6bn (£3.8bn). Philip Morris agreed to sell Miller, but is awaiting regulatory approval for the deal, which will create SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer after Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser.

Cheesy Wotsits also found a new home this week. The brand has been sold by Golden Wonder to arch-rival crisp maker Walkers. The rest of Golden Wonder Group's brands have been sold by Bridgepoint Capital to Longolf, owner of the Snack Factory. The value of the sale was not disclosed.

The words "he can go all night" might be about to take on a new meaning, as Eli Lilly prepares to release Cialis, an anti-impotence drug that lasts for 36 hours. The drug company hopes to create a similar impact on the market with Cialis to that of Pfizer's Viagra, which apparently lasts for around four or five hours.

While conventional wisdom has most brands falling over themselves to attract youthful AB1 audiences, this week Sainsbury's is targeting less affluent consumers with its latest marketing push.

The new Savacentres will be aimed at those wanting to buy "sliced bread and ketchup rather than wholegrains and olive oil", according to The Guardian. The announcement came as it unveiled a 14% rise in profits before exceptional items to £627m, its first rise in profits for two years.

Mind you, sliced bread isn't all that it seems -- the baker Mother's Pride has launched a new product, the V Force loaf. It looks and tastes the same as any old loaf of sliced white, but it has added vitamin C and is being targeted at parents tired of fighting the battle to get kids to eat vegetables and fruit.

V Force is the latest in a line of products designed to trick children into eating healthily -- other products that have been offered include hidden-vegetable sauces and chocolate-flavoured frozen vegetables.

And finally, a David versus Goliath victory for a trainee solicitor and a Scottish sandwich bar, over 20th Century Fox and the Ally McBeal television show.

The entertainment company had tried to force "McBeals" in Paisley outside Glasgow to change its name, despite the fact that 20th Century Fox had failed to license the name in the food and beverage category for trademark protection.

In a plot better than most of those used in the axed TV show, one of the sandwich bars owners, Mark O'Dowd, is serving his apprenticeship with the legal firm Morison Bishop and happens to specialise in intellectual property. McBeals has seen now seen Fox back down from its demands after a 10-month battle.

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