Ambush marketing is a promotional tactic launched at sponsored events where competing brands attract the attention of event goers without paying for sponsorship.
A number of good examples of ambush marketing occurred at the 2010 World Cup of soccer. In one case, the Dutch brewer Bavaria outfitted three dozen very good-looking blonde women in orange mini-dress outfits and had them show up to a match between Denmark and the Netherlands. Even though arrests and the threat of legal action soon followed, fans of ambush marketing would argue that it was a classic case of mission accomplished.
Ambush Marketers Brand without Payment
Ambush marketing is often a reflection of the fact that one type of brand sponsor has exclusive advertising rights to the event. In the case of the World Cup of soccer, Budweiser was the only beer company allowed to advertise at official venues, prompting smaller competitor Bavaria to ambush the scene with its micro-blondes stunt. They executed a similar exploit at the 2006 World Cup.
A large portion of today’s ambush marketing occurs around major, global sporting events such as the World Cup and the Summer or Winter Olympics. At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, VISA was the official credit card sponsor. However, that didn’t stop a rival credit card company from passing out cups of hot chocolate emblazoned with their logo to spectators disembarking from trains and making the long trek to one of the venues.
Ambush Marketing Is a Big Business
The business of sponsoring sports events is huge business. In 2009, various companies spent $43.5 billion for the exclusive right to juxtapose their brands with elite athletes. Ambush marketing has become so commonplace that it is now regarded as a legitimate form of marketing, rather than a renegade one. Moreover, all associated risks and residual fallout costs are factored into the overall expense of such a campaign.
BBC News – “How Ambush Marketing Ambushed Sport”, June 17, 2010, Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8743881.stm
Maclean’s Magazine – “Great Moments in Ambush Marketing”, Ferbuary 17, 2010, Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/02/17/great-moments-in-ambush-marketing/
Wall Street Journal – “Ambushed!”, January 25, 2010, Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052970204731804574391102699362862.html