Seeing is no longer believing in the digital age. Much was made last week of the electronic adverts rolling around the Maracanã poking fun at want-away Wayne Rooney. Questions were asked about Rooney's ability to focus on the task in hand while a huge flashing hoarding carried messages undermining his character. Well the thing is, they weren't actually there.
In the stadium, players and fans would have seen adverts in Portuguese, while only ITV's sudience at home in blighty were treated to the Wayne Rooney baiting. The technology for superimposing adverts over electronic adverts for television was developed by Finnish company Supponer, and brought to the UK by sports marketing agency Sports Revolution.
According to the outofhomeinternational blog "special optics inside the camera are able generate a series of rules to allow dynamic adverts to realistically replace the original hoarding. The idea works by then allowing an external agency to superimpose content across the ad hoardings, with the digital feed sent to the host broadcaster and subsequently fed to the appropriate country through each television channel." So in other words the image you see on your television has been doctored along the line between your set and the actual pitch.
This poses a number of awkward moral issues for football advertising in future. Will different television stations show differnt versions of the same game depending on their target audience's tastes? During Euro 2012, much was made of the manipulation of the live tv feed during the semi-final between Germany and Italy to suggest that a German fan was crying in the first half. This trend for manipulation is only growing.