A promotion tactic designed to associate a company, product, or service with a particular event, or to attract the attention of people attending the event, without payment being made for an official sponsorship.
1. Direct Ambush Marketing: In 1994 football world cup, MasterCard received exclusive rights for using world cup logo, but a rival Sprints Communication used the logo without permission. This is direct attack but can be defended by laws.
2. Indirect Ambush Marketing: Several ways indirect ambush marketing can take place like sponsoring the broadcast of the event, sponsoring subcategories of the major event etc.
Ambush marketing is used by companies to intrude upon public consciousness surrounding a sports property. Thus, ambush marketers avoid the cost of paying expensive sponsorship fees while gaining the benefits of associating with a sports property at the expense of the sponsor.
Visa was the official sponsor of the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer (Norway) in 1994 and aired TV commercials were they claimed that American Express cards were not accepted at the Olympic Villa. However, American Express aired ads which stated that American travelers did not need any visa to travel to Norway.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics ; Qantas Airlines’ slogan "The Spirit of Australia" sounds strikingly similar to the games’ slogan "Share the Spirit." Qantas claims it’s just a coincidence.
At the 2006 Football World Cup, Dutch brewer, Bavaria, gave away garish orange lederhosen displaying its name to hundreds of Dutch supporters attending the match against the Ivory Coast. Budweiser was the official beer. Stewards at the match ordered the fans to remove the garments before letting them in.
Why do brands with excellent reputations get into this?
Are they justified?
The questions arises as to whether or not practices such as ambush marketing is ethical, illegal or simply smart business practice. In order to decide this, an examination has to be undertaken of what are regarded as ethical marketing practices, in addition to examining what comprises ambush marketing, followed by a comparison of the two.
Typically, sports property owners and sponsors view the practice as being unethical,immoral and sometimes illegal. On the other hand, many companies unable to afford sponsorship fees will regard the practices involved as a legitimate form of defensive, competitive behaviour and perhaps even deny that what they are doing is ambush marketing.
The law as it now stands seems unable to accommodate the concerns of official corporate sponsors. There is no limit to human ingenuity. As such, ambush marketing at the margins will arguably always occur (Curthoys & Kendall 2002).
As sport has become a central element of an emerging global culture, marketers have recognised sports sponsorship as an international communication tool of commerce with the capability of providing a vehicle for firms to procure a sustainable competitive advantage.