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Ambush marketing

Ambush marketing. What is Ambush marketing and how is it done?

Ambush marketing, also known as parasitic marketing, is a marketing strategy in which a company intentionally takes advantage of an event or campaign in which the sponsorship/cost is paid by another company.

1. What is Ambush marketing?

The idea here is to take advantage of the campaigns paid for other companies for your own brand (usually competitors, but not always companies in direct competition).

Ambush marketing is always highly criticized and is not liked by many professionals, since they consider it dishonest, and its main purpose is to usurp the relevance that should have the company that has made the investment in marketing.

In this way, it causes serious damage to the company that legitimately sponsors the event (it is associated with mass events, but there are various forms of Ambush marketing that are not always applied to mass/sporting events).

2. Types of Ambush marketing

Without going into whether Ambush marketing is ethical, legal or any other related assessment, let’s differentiate between the two most common types of Ambush marketing: Direct Ambush marketing and Indirect Ambush marketing.

2.1. Direct Ambush marketing

Ambush marketing is a strategy when a brand (attacker) takes advantage of a massive event or campaign to make an “attack” on one of the sponsoring brands (attacked brand), so that the audience has the feeling that the attacking brand is actually sponsoring the event without it being real, causing confusion in the audience.

At the same time, Ambush direct marketing is also done by using the logo of a mass event or brand, without authorization, and such logo or image is incorporated into messages and actions related to the event.

It is a violation of trademark rights and is something that always leads to legal action, although sometimes the damage done is so relevant that the fines paid will be worth it for the attacker.

2.2. Indirect Ambush marketing

As its name suggests, indirect Ambush marketing is the action of confusing the audience in a very subtle way to make them believe, in a veiled way, that the attacking brand is an implicit part of the event (sponsor).

The suggestions in this case are very subtle but perceptible by the audience, and are done without violating the property of the attacked brand or the event itself.

In general, the way to confuse in an “indirect” way is through the use of logos, messages and symbology that are very similar to the official ones, creating an indirect association with the product/event, so people would think the brand is a part of the project.

3. Examples of ambush marketing

Just three examples are enough to get a good idea of what ambush marketing is:

3.1. Women’s marathon and AXE

During a women’s marathon held in Aarhus (Denmark) in 2008, AXE applied an ambush marketing action that eclipsed the event’s sponsors and ended up costing a derisory amount for the impact obtained.

They placed an actor in front of the starting line of the Marathon wearing a black T-shirt with the AXE deodorant logo and a bottle of its deodorant, right at the start of the marathon.

The actor sprayed himself with AXE deodorant and ran in front of the women, pretending that they were being chased by the “AXE effect” of the deodorant’s fragrance.

3.2. Panasonic and Beats by Dr. Dre

The Olympic Games capture the world’s attention and are a thriving place for Ambush marketing. During the London 2012 Olympics, Panasonic which was one of the official sponsors of the event had to fight an Ambush marketing campaign.

Beats got many of the athletes to wear their Beats headphones just before participating in the games, so people would see them using these products, which made Panasonic complain to the organizers. Since it was the Apple subsidiary’s products that were being displayed on screen and not theirs as the official sponsor.

This led the Olympic Committee to prohibit the use of Beats products by athletes, but not the use of Panasonic products, official sponsors of the Olympic Games.

3.3 Budweiser and Bavarian Beer

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw several Ambush marketing actions, one of which was done by the Dutch brewery Bavaria to steal the limelight from Budweiser (the official beer of the event).

During the match between Holland and Denmark, 36 girls dressed in orange and mixed among the Dutch fans to promote the Bavaria brewery.