Ambush Marketing

Ambush Marketing
Ambush marketing is a promotional tactic used by brands or companies to gain attention and publicity during a sporting event, without actually being an official sponsor of that event. This type of marketing can be subtle or overt, depending on the aim of the company and the angle of their campaign. It is common during large-scale events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, as well as smaller-scale events that attract a lot of attention and global viewership, such as music festivals and awards shows.

This type of marketing involves some degree of creativity and risk-taking, as companies attempt to outwit both event organizers and other companies to gain an edge in the promotional game. It’s important to note that ambush marketing, while it may be effective in improving a company’s visibility, and can have significant returns on investment, it can also be illegal, as it may breach copyright or trademark laws. This article will look at some of the different forms of ambush marketing, along with the potential legal issues, so that companies can avoid any nasty surprises in their pursuit of increased visibility.

Types of Ambush Marketing

1. Stealth/Parasitic Ambush Marketing: This type of ambush marketing involves a company attempting to piggyback off of the visibility of a major event without actually sponsoring it. This can be done through guerilla marketing tactics, such as running promotions during the event or promotional campaigns that make use of key words related to the event. For example, a company may not be the official sponsor of the Olympics, but they may run a promotion that “celebrates the spirit of the Olympics”.

2. Direct Ambush Marketing: This type of ambush marketing involves actively competing with the official sponsors of a major event, in an attempt to steal the spotlight. This can be a risky option, as it often involves taking legal action if claims of copyright or trademark infringement are made. Common forms of direct ambush marketing include giving away free items, sponsoring an athlete not officially associated with the event, or running campaigns directly referencing the major event.

3. Celebrity Ambush Marketing: This type of marketing involves using celebrity endorsement to promote a company’s product or service during a major event. Celebrity ambassadors are often used in order to create a connection between the brand and the event, without actually directly competing with the official sponsors. This type of ambush marketing is often seen in music festivals, when a celebrity wears a brand’s clothing or accessories, or is seen using a product or service.

Issues with Ambush Marketing

One of the main issues with ambush marketing is that it can be illegal, depending on the type of marketing tactics used. For example, if a company directly infringes on the trademark or copyright of an official sponsor, they may be breaking the law. It’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding promotional campaigns during major events, and to ensure that all campaigns remain within the bounds of the law.

Another issue with ambush marketing is that it can be unethical, as it can take away from the official sponsors of an event by stealing their spotlight and recognition. This can have a negative effect on the event itself, as it could reduce an event organizer’s revenues and potential profits. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that all promotional campaigns are within the bounds of decency and ethics.


Ambush marketing is a popular promotional tactic used by companies to gain visibility and recognition during a major event, without actually sponsoring the event. This type of marketing can be effective in increasing a company’s visibility, but it’s important to be aware of the potential legal and ethical issues involved. Companies should make sure that their promotional campaigns are within the bounds of the law and ethical standards before launching them, in order to avoid any potential problems.

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