England striker Wayne Rooney and Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner have been given a yellow card by the authorities for two very different marketing stunts.
Rooney was censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for passing off a marketing communication about Nike as a personal comment on Twitter.
His tweet included the slogan Make It Count and a web link to a promotional video for the sportswear brand.
Fellow footballer Jack Wilshere was also censured for posting a similar message featuring the same strapline and link.
The ASA said the reference to the brand was not prominent enough and could be missed by people reading the message.
A key element in the decision was the lack of the #ad sign, which tells people it is an advertisement, highlighting how important it is for brands to make their involvement in social media marketing clear.
“We considered there was nothing obvious in the tweets to indicate they were Nike marketing communications,” the ASA said in its ruling.
“In the absence of such an indication, for example #ad, we considered the tweets were not obviously identifiable as Nike marketing communications and therefore concluded they breached the code.”
The company defended its actions by arguing that social media is more of a direct channel of communication than traditional media, adding that anyone reading the messages had actively chosen to follow the players who are known for being sponsored by Nike.
Meanwhile, Bendtner was slapped with an £80,000 fine for ambush marketing that saw him pull down his shorts to show PaddyPower branded underpants after scoring against Portugal last week.
Although he denies being part of any marketing activity, football governing body UEFA took a dim view of the stunt.
PaddyPower said it was nothing more than a bit of fun and, with an eye on generating some positive PR, has agreed to pay the fine after being deluged by messages from fans on social media.
“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and what we heard loud and clear yesterday was that Nicklas Bendtner should not suffer as a result of UEFA’s double standards,” a statement from PaddyPower said.
“We don’t believe that Nicklas should be penalised for nothing more serious than wearing his lucky underpants which in fairness was only a bit of fun.”