Ambush Marketing – An Attack From The Hidden Position

Posted on Aug 2 2012 - 10:00am by Fayaz

Direct marketing, indirect marketing, aggressive marketing, viral marketing, social marketing, kiosk marketing, catalogue marketing, online marketing, ambush marketing, guerilla marketing, social marketing, cause related marketing….. uff! The list goes on with the never ending marketing strategies. But out of these 40+ marketing strategies something that caught my attention was the Ambush marketing. Ask me the reason I would say its characteristics. If you are a naughty person and pulling other’s legs is your hobby then this is something that you would love to know. Yes! I kind of love pulling other’s legs.

Wikipedia defines Ambush marketing as a marketing strategy wherein the advertisers associate themselves with, and therefore capitalize on, a particular event without paying any sponsorship fee

The Macmillan English Dictionary defines ambush marketing as a marketing strategy in which a competing brand connects itself with a major sporting event without paying sponsorship fee

According to McCarthy, ambush marketing is a type of marketing by a company that is not an official sponsor of an event, but which places advertisements using the event, to induce customers to pay attention to the advertisement

Over the years marketers are struggling for new ideas and innovative strategies to position their brand successfully in the market. Yesterday’s innovative idea becomes outdated today and thus it becomes a great challenge for the marketers to sustain their brand in the market where competitors attack with their own strategies. Ambush marketing is yet another unique and creative way of marketing but for the competitor it is a big challenge. The word Ambush means “An attack from the hidden position.”  Well, I would take you through some cases that will give you an insight on why Ambush marketing is a big challenge to the marketers.

Though ambush marketing is pretty much old concept in global business arena, it was first witnessed in India during 1996 cricket world cup held in Indian subcontinent. The official sponsorship for the event was bagged by coca-cola by paying INR 40 Crores as sponsorship fees. Now there comes the Pepsi with a creative approach to attack the official sponsor of the event with its new tagline “Nothing official about it”.

Ambush Marketing This campaign by Pepsi caught the imagination of the audience and struck a chord with them. People watching the cricket match thought that Pepsi is the official sponsor for the event, where coca-cola in spite of paying huge bucks failed in doing so.  Pepsi also signed a couple of cricketers for its campaign, who were not allowed to approach coke advertised trolleys as a part of their contract and thus Pepsi won the show.

Now in India ambush marketing just took off from there and Pepsi paved the path for it. Thereon many brands started following it and the Indian market witnessed many such cases.

Now let’s see another such story in airlines industry.

Jet airways came up with a new campaign “We have changed” and displayed hoardings that read the same.  Now it was kingfisher’s turn to attack the competitor and thus it countered the campaign by just adding a hoarding above which read “We made them change”.

Brilliant move! But the story didn’t end there and another competitor Go Air put up a hoarding above these two which read “We have not changed; we’re still the smartest way to fly”. Amazing! Its check & mate! This for sure created a comical scenario for the audience.

Now let’s see another such story that happened between the 2 FMCG giants. Yes! HUL and P&G.

Procter & Gamble started a new teaser campaign for the re-launch of Pantene that read “A Mystery Shampoo!! 80%women say is better than anything else”. Dove and panteneEven before P&G could reveal the shampoo name HUL ambushed the campaign and just putting up a hoarding adjacent to it with a new tagline that read “There is no mystery. Dove is the No: 1 shampoo”.  Amazing, eh?

There are number of cases related to ambush marketing in Indian market as well as foreign market.

The 1998 FIFA world cup too faced the same issue where Nike sponsored a number of teams competing in the event despite Adidas being the official sponsor

In 2006, the brewer Bavaria gave away their branded lederhosen to Dutch fans traveling to Germany to watch the Fifa World Cup, sponsored by competing brewer Anheuser Busch. When thousands fans arrived wearing branded merchandise from a non-sponsor, officials forced those fans to remove their lederhosen and watch the game in their underclothes.

In FIFA 2010 2 girls were arrested and 36 girls were sent out of the stadium for ambush-marketing a beer brand with orange color dress, since ambush marketing is against the law in south Africa.

In India, there is almost no protection against indirect ambush marketing. However, for direct ambush marketing, there are several laws like The Trade Practices Act, the Trade Marks Act, The Copyright Act, The Counterfeit Goods Act and the Merchandise Marks Act.

Ambush marketing is not only found in the print media whereas it is everywhere, be it a TV, banner ads, hoarding or online. There have been debates for long time that whether ambush marketing is ethical or unethical and so on. There is no question of ethics involved here as long as there is no harm to either brand. It shows the cut throat competition and a creative way for marketers to overcome it. Also these kinds of comic fights make the brand name to get registered in the minds of the target audience.


About the Author

Fayaz is the founder of Marketing Bloggers. Apart from the jibber-jabber he is Human by birth, Engineer by mistake, Marketer by Choice.. That says it all :)

3 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Ankesh August 5, 2012 at 1:15 am -

    Awesome read….Ambush Marketing….because Marketing Matters

  2. Vina August 29, 2013 at 12:19 am -

    really awesome and the best…helped me alot..thanks..!!

    • Fayaz September 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm -

      Thank You Vina for stopping by and commenting 🙂 Glad that you liked it and helped you..! do keep reading our posts and keep sharing it with others..!

      Fayaz 🙂

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