What is ambush marketing?
Ambush marketing is a form of marketing where a company tries to ride on the publicity value of a major event without any financial contribution to the event. This was first coined by marketing guru Jerry Welsh. It is majorly done at major sporting events like the Olympic Games or the world cups and is adopted by rivals of the official sponsors.
More often, however, ambush marketing involves more subtle forms of confusing or misleading the public about who are actually sponsoring the event.
Strategy Behind Ambush Marketing
Major Sporting Events like the world cup, Olympic competition and grand prix competitions are the events that are mainly targeted. For 1996 Worldcup cricket event, Coke paid to be an exclusive sponsor of the event. Pepsi released a TVC which said “Nothing official about it”.Finally it confused viewers to think about who was real sponsor of the event. This is the basic premise of Ambush marketing.
Types of ambush marketing
There are basically 2 types:Direct & Indirect
Direct Ambush marketing is where a brand directly tries to associate with an event without purchasing official rights as a sponsor
It can be divided into 4 types
- Predatory Ambushing
Here Direct attack is done on the competitor’s sponsorship of the event thereby confusing the customer. During 1984 winter games, Amex ran a tagline “So if you’re traveling to Norway, you’ll need a passport, but you don’t need a Visa.”
Which enraged the official sponsor VISA
- Coattail Ambushing
Here an individual or a related event is made means by which exposure of the larger event is being gained.In Atlanta Olympics, Lindford Christie wore a contact lenses at the press conference that had the iconic Puma logo in the pupil. Puma was well covered in the news the following day
- Property Infringement
Here Trademark of the advertiser or event is being intentionally misused or violated to confuse the consumers. During London Olympics, Local businesses were fined for including words like “gold,” “bronze,” or “summer” in their advertising, as these were considered an infringement on the trademark of its brand.
Here the Company which has got the sponsorship violates terms of contract thereby infringing on another sponsor area. In 2008 UEFA European championship, Carlsberg gave out headbands & T-shirts which were not permitted as per terms of contract.
Indirect ambush marketing is where brand tried to indirectly establish an association through a suggestion or reference to the event
Here there is use of imagery or terminology which are not protected by IP laws to create Illusion of event sponsorship
Values based Ambushing
Here a non-sponsor tailors its marketing practices to appeal to the same values or makes the same themes as the event or its promotion, so that audiences interested in the main event will likewise be attracted to the non-sponsor’s marketing
Ambushing by Distraction
This refers to setting of promotional presence near the event, albeit without making direct reference to the event itself, in order to take benefit of the customer attention toward the event
This is in turn divided into
This refers to use of surprise blitz marketing at an event or near enough to it that the target audience is being covered
Parallel property ambushing:
This refers to creation of an event or property that has qualitative similarity to main event & competes with main event for attention
14 Great ambush marketing examples
Below are 14 great examples of ambush marketing that has happened across the world
1.Rona Catches apple off-guard
The picture says it all. This happened in Canada. A local paint brand saw an opportunity in outdoor creative of Apple. They put up a banner below Apple’s billboard & it looked as if the paint was falling into buckets. The text on their banner said: “We recycle leftover paint.”
2.Fiat Ambushes Volkswagen
This is another example of great ambush marketing . When employees of Fiat spotted a Street View vehicle driving by, one of them took it as an opportunity to score over an arch rival. So he jumped into a Fiat 500 and followed the car for abpout 45 minutes to till he reached Volkswagen’s headquarters.
As it neared the Volkswagen HQ, Fiat staffer shot ahead, went up on the driveway and parked the car 500 right in front of entrance. Then he waited out until the street vehicle too a photo.
Due to google delay of one year in update, this Fiat Picture remained in google street View for an year which was a huge heartburn for Volkswagen.That is why you need to hire smart employees.What say?
3.We Pay Ices paypal
Startup WePay checkmated paypal by doing the unthinkable.During the time that PayPal was paying the price for “freezing” customer accounts, and amidst a PayPal developer conference, WePay left gave them a little gift. Money was frozen inside a massive chunk of ice and wheeled it to the front doors of the conference with a message: “PayPal freezes accounts – unfreeze your money”.
4.Audi vs BMW
Perhaps one of the most popular examples is the 2009 war between Audi and BMW in Santa Monica.
BMW ran a Rally to which below communication message was crafted
Audi replied with the message
“Chess? No Thanks I’d rather be driving.”
Audi then issued a challenge to BMW with an image of the Audi A4, and message : “Your move, BMW.”
BMW immediately took a hoarding just beside, which was 3 times the size of AUDI Billboard. The message was “Checkmate”. They have featured 3 series BMW in the billboard
Audi replied with its message”Your pawn is not match for our king”
It does not end here, soon AUDI came up with a new communication in a billboard, which congratulated BMW for Winning World Car of the year award.
BMW also replied on same lines
Suddenly a new player jumped into give a new twist to same>
But final nail in the coffin was from Bentley with this ad featuring its founder
5. Bavaria ambushes 2010 world cup football
In 2010, during world cup football match between Denmark and Holland, 36 girls in mini-skirts wore branded clothes that promoted Dutch beer Bavaria.They were removed from the stadium after being accused of being models of Dutch beer Bavaria attempting to ambush the World Cup and its official beer sponsor, Budweiser.
6.’Beats’ Headphones beats marketing rules at Olympics
Dr. Dre and his Beats headphones created marketing controversy at the Summer Olympics 2012.
Pre-2016,London Olympics organizers and the International Olympic Committee had strict rules to protect official sponsors who have struck multi-million dollar deals for the exclusive right to exploit their association with the event.it was called as Rule 40. It stated that athletes were not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites. The IOC issued guidance against so-called “ambush marketing” by non-Olympics marketers ahead of the Games.
Beats gate crashed the IOC party .The headphone brand was not an official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee or the London 2012 Olympic Games. Under Olympics sponsorship and marketing rules, it should therefore not get promoted by athletes at the Summer Games.
But Dr. Dre’s company sent some high-profile members of the British team special versions of the headphones decorated with the union flag. Among others, British tennis player Laura Robson and diver Tom Daley have been seen sporting them. Soccer player Jack Butland has even been tweeting about them.
Daley was seen on screen with his Beats headphones ahead of the synchronized platform diving competition on Monday, an event watched by seven million at its peak on the BBC.
According to a report in The Guardian, Robson tweeted about receiving her headphones, although the post now appears to have been removed from her Twitter account as did a Twitter post from Butland, which had said: “Love my GB Beats by Dre.”
Among U.S. stars, Michael Phelps has been seen using the headphones in the Aquatics Center to help block background noise before races and help his concentration.
The ambush marketing initiative came on the heels of a protest – initiated by U.S. athletes, including 400-meter sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross & Dawn Harper, the Olympic 100 meter hurdles champion
In reality, the brand was an unknown brand to many before 2012 Olympics. How Beats gave athletes a free pair of headphones in their countries’ colors and became the talk of the Games is a case study on ambush marketing “.
7.Paddy Power:The Irreverent brand
Paddy Power – the bookmaker has become renowned for its irreverent and cunning approach to sports marketing. For the London 2012 Olympics, it took out a series of provocative billboards which read: “Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year! There you go, we said it”. In parenthesis underneath, the ad admitted that its sponsorship was, in fact, for an egg and spoon race in the town of London in France.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games ordered that the billboards be taken down for breaching sponsorship agreements but Paddy Power dug its heels in, lawyers circled and the campaign was allowed to continue.
Paddy Power wasn’t the only cheeky Irish marketing stunt at the Olympics, with boxer Paddy Barnes holding up a sign with his Twitter handle and the words ‘Open for sponsors’ during the opening ceremony, exposing him to around one billion TV viewers.
8.Nike-Find Your Greatness
Nike created an ad that showed plenty of running, jumping and diving alongside the word ‘London’ but, cleverly, ensured that they filmed in the UK capital’s namesakes in the US, Norway, Jamaica, and Nigeria.
It was a first that brand like Nike came prepared to spend big money in airing what is essentially an ambush advert
On a slightly smaller budget, UK bottle shop Oddbins created an Olympics-themed ad which was quite open about the fact the Games can’t be mentioned by non-sponsors.it went a step further by actively rewarding customers that use the brands of sponsors’ rivals during the Games
Customers wearing Nike trainers, brandishing an iPhone, a bill from British Gas and a receipt for a Pepsi bought at KFC will receive 30% off their purchases at Oddbins.
- I Select
I Select , an insurance company took a slightly different tack, with Mr iSelect, played by actor Jason Geary, complaining “Every four years it’s the same story.
Companies that have nothing to do with the Games jumping on the bandwagon,” all while performing various Olympic sports, such as swimming, weightlifting and rhythm gymnastics, in the office.
The ad, which premiered during Nine’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony in 2012, has been applauded for achieving great exposure at a fraction of the cost of official sponsors.
11. Stella ambushes US Open
In the US Open 2011, Heineken was official beer sponsor. Stella chose the closest station it could to the Bille Jean King National Tennis Centre and blasted the terminal with 15 different Stella Billboards. They made it look as if Stella was sponsoring the tennis event. The ads had tennis themes, with messages like “the top-seeded Belgian,” “your trophy awaits” and “a perfect match.”
12.UA Ambushes Rio 2016 from Nike
Under Armor’s released a new 90-sec tvc “Rule Yourself” spot with the Team USA Women’s Gymnastics. It hit a total of 3 million views & makes pudgy, middle-age men want to do some gymnastics. And while it’s did not achieve the 5.6 million views of Under Armor’s companion Michael Phelps ad, it makes a successful argument in 90 seconds that even the #likeagirl campaign could appreciate.
13.Puma ambushes IOC with a pair of golden shoes
Shortly after winning gold medal in 100m sprint in 2016 Rio Olympics.Bolt jolted IOC with his golden shoe
Usain Bolt is the most important sportsman in Puma’s portfolio. And at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Jamaican once again won the gold medal in the 100m sprint. As soon as he had done this he took his golden boot & flashed at media making it Ambush Marketing of the highest level
Puma changes its slogan for Bolt
Shortly afterwards Puma’s social media team started came out with posts on the sports brand’s Twitter and Instagram accounts which read: “When you are @Usain Bolt, you are #ForeverFastest”, an alteration of the Puma slogan “Forever Faster”. There was no reference to the Olympics, thereby avoiding problems with IOC lawyers. So no #Rio2016 and absolutely no #Olympics.
14.Visa v/s Master card Face off
At the 1992 barcleona Olympics, Visa’s official sponsorship allowed it to create ads with the tagline: “The Olympics don’t take American Express.” It was an ad which got American express on back foot. American Express retorted with its own ad campaign that said: “To visit Spain, you don’t need a visa.”