on business | What Ambush Marketing Is And Why It Causes So Much Controversy

What Ambush Marketing Is And Why It Causes So Much Controversy

Ambush marketing has caused a lot of controversies, especially at sporting events, but do you know what it is? Find out in this article!


Major events, such as the World Cup, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl, tend to move the crowd, interests, and routines of millions and billions of people around the world, right?


The brands that sponsor or exclusively support these mega-events have very valuable advertising spaces. They use these environments to control the consumption and exposure monopoly during programming.


The ambush marketing concept

Ambush marketing can be understood as a set of advertising actions parallel, of a direct or indirect character, to an event made by non-sponsoring brands.

It is about taking a ride on the visibility, movement and consumer interest generated by major events even without sponsoring them.
This is usually a strategy used by brands that compete directly with the official sponsors of an event or program.

For you to better understand ambush marketing, this concept is divided into two categories. They are ambush marketing by association and by the intrusion.


Ambush Marketing by Association

In this type, the company takes advantage of any symbol (names, brands, images, pets, etc.) of an event in which it is not an official sponsor or supporter to obtain an economic or advertising advantage.

The idea is to induce the public to believe that their products, services, brands, and contents are approved or associated with the official organization of the event in question.

For example, if a restaurant makes a Facebook post with the following invitation text: “Bring your friends to enjoy the games of the World Cup” and with the competition logo in the bottom corner of the image, the establishment is practicing ambush marketing.


Intrusion Ambush Marketing

The type for intrusion occurs when brands and companies engage in some promotional activity at the event that they do not support or sponsor.

The most common cases are in more subtle marketing actions, such as when a player celebrates the goal by making a sign that resembles a certain brand. Cases like this have already happened and we will show you in the next topic.


The classic examples

The term ambush marketing is more recent, but this opportunistic practice is old.

To give you an idea, we selected 5 well-known examples that you might not even know were an ambush, but now you will. Check out!


Nike's giant panel at the 2010 World Cup

At the 2010 South Africa World Cup, Adidas was one of the sponsors. Nike then placed a 44-meter panel on top of the tallest building in the city of Johannesburg.

The panel was lit from 6 pm to 6 am and showed images of great football names like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, next to the phrase “write the future”.


Beats headset dispute at London Olympics

The 2012 Olympics took place in London, England. To get spontaneous media during the event, the headphones brand, Beats, by American rapper Dr. Dre, distributed colored devices to athletes from different delegations.


The fervor was so great that the company closed the distribution point in the center of London before the Olympic Committee interfered.


Nike and it's gold sneakers at the 1996 Olympics

During the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, American sprinter Michael Johnson stood out for breaking two world records by winning the 200m and 400m sprints.
The ambush there is in the fact that he was wearing Nike's flashy golden sneakers, and the official sponsor of the sporting event was Reebok.

To further increase Nike's visibility and decrease that of its competitors, Johnson was on the cover of Times magazine with his sneakers hanging around his neck along with his two gold medals.

Furthermore, the fact that Michael Johnson stood out while running in his home country (USA) was even better for Nike, which was quite opportunistic.


The challenges of ambush marketing

We can analyze the challenges for this marketing from three points of view: that of the events, the sponsoring brands and the brands that want to hitch a ride at the event.

The challenge for the events is to create increasingly efficient mechanisms for monitoring ambush actions. The intention is to increase the protection of the spaces of the sponsoring brands since they invest their funds and help to make the event happen.

Brands that officially sponsor or support events should improve innovation and creativity in their marketing efforts. 


After all, they have the exclusivity of these spaces and, therefore, they have an obligation to stand out before all their competitors.