With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, I thought it would be very fitting to talk about the practice of Ambush Marketing as it is something that always exists around the time of large-scale sporting events.
Before we go any further, let’s define Ambush Marketing. In simple terms Ambush Marketing is the practice by which advertisers seek to connect their brand(s) with a large-scale event in the minds of consumers without paying to be official sponsors of the event. To the best of my knowledge, Ambush Marketing isn’t actually illegal (in the UK), though some may question the ethics of this practice .
There are cases of very clever uses of Ambush Marketing, we will look at some examples further down. The disadvantage of Ambush Marketing for event organisers is that it can devalue the sponsorship. Ambush Marketing for official sponsors of an event can be very frustrating. I guess it is something that isn’t really going to go away so organisations that pay to be official sponsors need to step up their game so to speak. They should see Ambush Marketing as something that pushes them to be even more creative, think outside the box and outshine the efforts of the ‘Ambushers’.
Now for some Ambush Marketing examples…
1) Paddy Power used a very smart, but very cheeky technique with their ad campaign that they ran at the same time as the London 2012 Olympics. Reading the ad (below) you would think how on earth did they get away with it, but what you probably can’t see clearly from this image is that they were actually referring to an egg and spoon race taking place in London, France. I think this is a genius bit of advertising. LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) was unsuccessful in trying to get the ad pulled down.
2) Something else that LOCOG tried to have banned was the restaurant chain Little Chef’s Olympic breakfast. They were unsuccessful however because it had been called that since 1994.
3) And finally an example that shows you just how successful Ambush Marketing can be for the ‘Ambushing’ organisation. Going back to the 2008 Olympics, Coca Cola spent many millions of dollars to become one of the official sponsors of the event. Pepsi tried to capitalise on this event without paying to become official sponsors.They ran an interactive online campaign which was very successful with fans. They also changed the colours of their cans to Coca Cola’s red colour which they claim was done as a mark of respect to China (associated with happiness and fortune). In a survey conducted at the end of the Olympics it was found that 60% of consumers believed that Pepsi were the official sponsors of the Olympics. A bit of a kick in the teeth for Coca Cola huh!