Campaigns to create brand awareness:

When faced with restrictions by consumers who have a zero tolerance to advertising, other means of creating brand awareness need to be utilised to get your message across to your target audience.

Ambush marketing is an alternative to formal sponsorship and is used by companies that either do not have the funds to be an official sponsor or who could not become one as there is only one official sponsor in each product category. Ambush marketing is an attempt by a company or brand to associate itself with an event or sponsored activity without gaining formal rights to do so.2 FIFA has put into place harsh by-laws to protect its official sponsors from ambush marketing. Yet there is a debate on whether ambush marketing results in a weakening of the impact of an official sponsor’s marketing activities or that ambush marketing is a creative and strategic marketing tactic to try capitalise on a mega event, such as the FIFA World Cup 2010.



To enable your brand to stand out from competitors and to break through the advertising clutter an Ambush marketing campaign might do just that.

Ambush marketing is when a brand that is not an official sponsor of a specific event, such as the FIFA World Cup 2010 or any other sporting tournament or music festival, carries out marketing activities in an attempt to create an association with that specific event and/or to take advantage of the status or image of the event, without being an official sponsor and thus without paying a sponsorship fee to do so, or without the event owner’s permission.

Event owners or corporate bodies of these mega events such as FIFA, react aggressively to ambush marketing. As they need to protect the value of their own commercial rights in the event, and to protect their official sponsors who pay millions to be a sponsor, especially if the official sponsor is a direct competitor to the advertiser (unofficial sponsor brand).  Official sponsors pay a large sum for the exclusive rights to be officially associated with the event thus any brand that tries to link itself to the event needs to be punished in the eye of the event owner.
Why can ambush marketing be unlawful?

Ambush marketing can infringe the event owner’s trade marks, copyright and other intellectual property rights in relation to the event. This is unlawful and can give the event owner grounds to sue the advertiser, which was evident in the Soccer World Cup Event 2010.
In some countries, creating a false or misleading association with an event can also constitute unlawful or unfair competition and/or it can breach advertising regulations. For example FIFA insisted that South Africa had to put advertising by-laws into place if they wished to host the World Cup 2010 in their country and as it was such an honour to host such an event South Africa obliged with open arms, yet the logic is changing your constitution to suit a corporate body like FIFA is quite a leap considering our country which has more important things to concentrate on than advertising by-laws and suppression of local brand who do not have the finances to be an official sponsor in comparison to the international mega brands.
Therefore it is becoming increasingly common for special laws to be introduced in countries where major events are being held, which give event owners additional protection by making it unlawful to carry out certain ambush marketing activities which would otherwise be permitted under the general law. Sometimes, these laws can even make ambush marketing a criminal offence.1


Kulula World Cup Campaign

Ad campaigns of un-official sponsors of the 2010 World Cup…lucky strike or off sides? FIFA’s referees were trained to determine who got accused of ambush marketing and who weren’t. Some were lucky and creatively by by-passed FIFA’s by-laws while others were off sides and gave the opposition a penalty kick…FIFA reap in the rewards through their legal law suits.

When un-official sponsors of the World Cup 2010 created marketing campaigns around the South Africa soccer theme some were successful and bypassed the by-laws set by FIFA and some got a red card slapped in their face.

When it comes to ambush marketing why were some companies accused while others weren’t. There is some controversy around this topic. When Kulula (British Airways Cheap and Affordable Airline) created an ad campaign with the title “The Un-official National Carrier of the You-know-What” FIFA slapped them with a red card, a legal note stating that they were participating in ambush marketing as the advert featured soccer-related drawings such as a soccer player, the Cape Town stadium, soccer balls and the South African flag.

The majority of the public saw FIFA’s fury from one angle; as this fun and affordable airline was ridiculing them of their by-laws and ambush marketing was a threat to their official sponsors who pay such a high fee to associate themselves with the World Cup 2010.  This created a buzz and with publicity and through Word-of-Mouth Kulula’s ad had already been seen and started rotating its way around the internet before Kulula was asked to pull it. Kulula then decided to redo their campaign and created another ad with the message “Not Next Year, Not Last Year, But somewhere in between” the ad was done in a quirky and fun way, which is the true Kulula style.

Why was this ad accused of ambush marketing when many other adverts featured the South African flag and soccer balls? Was it known to the majority of the followers that FIFA outsourced MATCH Hospitality to set a fixed price of R5 520 ($755) for all domestic flights for BA/Comair and SA Airways over the period of the 2010 World Cup*. Thus they made massive profits. Yet as Comair owns BA and it’s fun budget airline Kulula they didn’t get their hands on the whole package as Comair refused to sign both their airlines to MATCH/FIFA. Some say this is what tempered FIFA to send the legal letter. Getting revenge back fired on FIFA as the publicity generated from this was worth more than any advertising campaign would have.

Kulula Ad-The Ad that got accused of Ambush Marketing Kulula Ad-Their Come Back