Guidelines to follow when considering an Ambush marketing campaign:

  1. Never use any actual names, logos, slogans or branding of events, or any graphics, symbols or signage that might be confusingly similar to the sponsors or event owners.
  2. Try to avoid the use of any pictures, words or symbols that are clearly suggestive of an event or which are intended to refer to it. (during the World Cup 2010, a low budget airline; Kulula got asked by FIFA to pull their advert which featured soccer symbols, a soccer player, flags etc )
  3. Do not create an advert which refers to an event such as the World Cup 2010, but which uses the event in a negative light to promote your products or services. For example sending an email to consumers which reviews South Africa’s World Cup 2010 hosted by FIFA, and then goes on to suggest that readers can get away from all the ‘madness’ with a discounted holiday special using the ‘attached voucher’.
  4. Do not run competitions or promotions that give away tickets to the hosted event as prizes, only unless you have the event owner’s (e.g.: FIFA’s ) permission to do so as this straight away links your brand to the event.
  5. Never use the hosted event’s branding and/or names, logos etc on your product’s packaging if you are not an official sponsor, partner, supporter etc.
  6. Do not use the words ‘Sponsor’, ‘Partner’ or ‘Supporter’ in your marketing campaign in relation to an event, unless you have been granted the rights by the event’s corporate body to do so.

If you follow these guidelines your ambush marketing should be safe from legal penalties, yet if you are unsure rather seek legal advice before the campaign is launched yet some might say that the legal fine for participating in ambush marketing is simply the fee paid to advertise with a mega event and draw publicity as it is a small fee in comparison to buying the rights to become an official sponsor. To gain brand awareness and have a successful ‘ambush’ marketing campaign ad agencies and marketing teams need to be innovative and creative in their approach to their campaigns as the results of a successful campaign are: brand awareness, breaking through the clutter of other advertising messages, ‘link/ties’ to a mega event in the consumers mind without having to pay the heavy fee of being an official sponsor as the line between being an official and unofficial sponsor in the consumers mind is blurred if your advertising approach is right. Another advantage is gaining publicity, Buzz marketing or Word-of-mouth marketing*, exposure and gaining a competitive advantage over your competitors. “Only imagination ultimately limits the possibilities for ambushing, making it difficult for event owners and corporate sponsors to protect themselves from hostile competitive activity”. 2

Ambush strategies or methods that can be used by a company: 5

1) Sponsoring media coverage of the event

2) Sponsoring a subcategory of the event and aggressively supporting that investment

3) Purchasing advertising around the event that may take two distinct forms:

a) Themed advertising or

b) Traditional advertising around the event

4) Sponsoring contributions to the player bonus pools

5) Creating special opportunities, such as giving away licensed souvenirs or trips to the event’s host country, running congratulatory ads, or creating imaginative tie-ins.

As more ambush marketing has occurred over the years and with sponsors paying a large fee for their sponsorship right attitudes to ambush marketing have become more harsh.2 Ambush marketing has been defined as:

“The unauthorised association by businesses with an event through any one or more of a wide range of marketing activities. It is a company’s intentional efforts to weaken, or ambush, its competitor’s “official” sponsorship. It does this by engaging in promotions or advertising that trade off the event or property’s goodwill and reputation, and that seeks to confuse the buying public as to which company really holds official sponsorship rights”. 2

Yet there is a growing understanding that ambush marketing is not an ad hoc activity, but a well planned creative and innovative effort to expose the companies brand and to link the brand to the event and thus gain the benefits associated with being a ‘sponsor’ or weaken the impact of a main competitor who is an official sponsor. Some see it as “neutralising the competitive advantage by confusing the consumer as to who the legitimate sponsor of an event is…There is a weak minded view that competitors have a moral obligation to step back and allow an official sponsor to reap all the benefits from a special event . . . (competitors have) not only a right but an obligation to shareholders to take advantage of such events”.2

Ambush Marketing that took place during the World Cup 2010:

  1. Nike on Adidas
  2. Pepsi on Coca Cola
  3. Bavaria on Budweiser
  4. Kulula on Emirates Airline
  5. Coo-ee on Coca Cola

Strategic Advertising Campaigns: (That reaped the capital rewards from their successful campaigns)


  1. SAB (VS Budweiser)
  2. Nando’s (VS Mac Donalds)
  3. Jockey
  4. FNB
  5. Sibaya


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About innovationdeviation
Vega Honours student striving to make a difference in my field. Passionate about marketing and branding. Driven by my personal life goals

One Response to Guidelines to follow when considering an Ambush marketing campaign:

  1. Deanne says:

    Nifty 🙂 Plan ahead on the next one

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