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Ambush Marketing: What Is It and Why Does It Matter in Business?

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Ambush marketing, as the name implies, uses covert and unexpected methods to raise brand awareness at events. Ambush marketing has a number of variations, but one constant element is that the company promoting its goods or services did not pay for the right to do so. As a result, the ambushee business attempts to profit from the efforts made by the event’s sponsor.

What Is Ambush Marketing?

Businesses invest a significant amount of cash in sponsoring major sporting, entertainment, and educational events as a marketing effort.

Competitors who don’t pay for the chance gain access to these events and use them to promote their own brands. This is an example of ambush marketing in action.

There are two types of ambush marketing: direct and indirect.

Direct Ambush Marketing

A company that acts in an aggressive manner by deliberately associating itself with a situation without the legal right to do so is referred to as a direct ambush.

Coca-Cola made a deliberate and planned effort to acquire the broadcast rights following Pepsi’s securing of the sponsorship rights for the 1997 Pepsi Asia Cup.

Coca-Cola gained a significant amount of exposure as a result of this, allowing the firm to benefit economically from its partnership.

Trademarks and copyrights may also be infringed through aggressive ambush marketing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is a red cross emblem that represents medical organizations all around the world. In fact, it is a copyright infringement of the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Indirect Ambush Marketing

Indirect ambush marketing is a more covert strategy. The firm that pays for sponsorship rights does not try to take advantage of the other company that has paid money for this privilege.

Instead, it cynically exploits the event’s popularity. Any possible connection between the ambushing firm and the event is unconfirmed and left to the consumer’s discretion.

Paddy Power, an Irish gambling chain, erected billboards ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games that claimed to be the “official sponsor of the biggest athletics event in London.”

However, in considerably smaller print, they stated that the town referred to in the campaign was London, France.

The end result was that Paddy Power was able to generate marketing buzz around the Olympic Games – since consumers understood which London was being referred to – without incurring any legal responsibility in the process.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Ambush Marketing

The most apparent benefit of ambush marketing is that it is low-cost and has the potential to be highly successful. Ineffective marketing campaigns, any exposure a brand receives will outweigh any fines or penalties incurred.

Businesses that use ambush marketing develop connections between the event and their target audience’s thoughts. Brand equity is a function of how well a business name or trademark is perceived to be more valuable than the actual goods or services it sells.

Ambush marketing has several disadvantages. Ambush marketing campaigns might sometimes result in hefty fines or lawsuits that outweigh the financial benefits of brand exposure. Since ambush marketing operations are often unplanned and nontraditional, it’s tough to calculate return on investment (ROI).

Businesses that utilize ambush marketing must be prepared for a lengthy, drawn-out fight with the company they are ambushing. These squabbles have the potential to negate previously gained exposure and waste money in the long run.

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