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  • Writer's pictureBrain Booster Articles


Author: Rimika Chauhan, III year of LL.B.(Hons.) from Galgotias University

Ambush marketing is a newly prevalent marketing technique that raises awareness of a new brand in disguised ways. It is the practice of copying or hijacking another company’s or advertiser’s action to raise awareness or promote another company or brand. It is often in the context of the event of sponsorships. Ambush marketing methods have uncountable forms, but have one common element. The main plan is to align the brand with an event or property without paying for the right to be a sponsor. The most discriminating features of marketing are that it cannot be predicted. Let’s take an example as money is required to broadcast and host an event of sports, and companies enter into official sponsorships for funding purpose and we know that smaller companies can not afford such amount to contribute this huge level of funding that's why they try to use creative tactics and the get the attention of the crowd. The more attention they get in the process the better it is for the company. Any company can employ ambush marketing strategies even if it is not an official company at an event but in reality, not every company will. This business of ambush marketing appeals normally to a particular set of people, men between eighteen and thirty-four.

Consumer’s mind can easily be reached as there are several ways to do that as the consumer easily get attracted by the messages of different brands that they see. There are various fronts such as thousands of products (sponsorship, advertising, promotion, sale activities etc) differentiates and so to say that there is a lot of brand competition. These competitions are mostly seen in the field of sports organizations.[1]

Sports have always been a better source of entertainment for the consumer in every moment of life and are in high demand. It has been transformed into a huge industry which has become large-scale because of power influencing sectors connected. The world's leading companies are trying to increase their market shares through sports. Sports is currently considered as the most popular market for sponsorship. According to reports, Sports has the highest share in the sponsorship areas.

Ambush marketing has appeared to be a major threat to sports sponsorship. The marketing can also be described as an effort of making the another company's name which is a contender related to the event without paying a huge amount and also without messing the laws in the situations that official sponsorship happen in an organization which is associate with the masses even a brand's sporting, social or even political event.

The efforts of preventing ambush marketing applications by the event owners and sponsors are becoming very hard. There is not a clear outcome about whether ambush marketing is the amoral application or not and if it has a positive or a negative impact on sports marketing. The war against ambush marketing will be successful or not will be determined by further investigation.

Ambush marketing isn’t a workable marketing strategy for all businesses. The costs involved can be prohibitively expensive, but these strategies beneath ambush marketing as a concept can be easily applied to the campaigns. There are so many ways of campaigning from PPC campaigns on the search network to visual campaigns on social media Facebook.


The most important thing required in the ambush marketing campaign is to find a skilled programmer who can create through the web the presence that causes campaigns to go viral. There is a need for a website with a blog, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, Instagram, and the requirement of an intuitive smart-phone app. Essentially, a brand is very much required to make the appearance highly interactive, entertaining, and distinct.

After creating a web team and brand ambassadors, the next and very important step is to place powerful smartphones into those hands who’ll be walking amongst the crowd. Now another thing to look at is that marketers must be able to use social media, post, tweet, share videos and upload photos, with those following the brand. Just like people are connected with friends and family, a brand should also position itself inside of those relational circles in online interactions.

The final step for the brand is to physically position itself. It can be done in gathering at events or properties where there is the crowd and then creating a presence. Sometimes it involves shocking behaviour to get the attention of the crowd, but not always. The campaign must be unexpected, but with preparation, it can be framed in an enjoyable way rather than dispute. Most people like pleasant surprises and the more important thing is that they remember them.

Many young companies engage in ambush marketing strategies. We can also find some marketing firms that contract with other companies for ambush campaigns. Therefore, we can say that there are a few options available for those people who desire to employ in ambush-marketing skills.[2] At the entry-level, there is Social Media Marketing Specialists These positions involved in a marketing campaign by shifting through and interpreting large amounts of data, press release writing presentations, and calculating the results of the campaign for a summative report. The requirement of these positions is the high level of creativity and social involvement in building a successful social marketing plan. For social media marketing specialists, there is a need to have at least a bachelor’s degree with a major in business or marketing.



Santa Monica, California is famous for its lengthy pier and beautiful weather, but this coastal city was also famous for the battlefield of two world’s largest car manufacturer companies who waged a war for billboard dominance. The fight began soon after BMW organised a rally in Wisconsin state, an event that was publicized through a joint campaign. The slogan of the campaign was[3]“A BMW rally with two nearby service centres, What’s next, paramedics at a chess tournament?” Crappy, nonsensical slogans aside, Audi saw an opportunity there to capitalize upon BMW’s campaign so, in response to the BMW’s ads, Audi erected a billboard in Santa Monica city advertising its new A4 sedan making fun of BMW’s slogan. After a few days, Audi again doubled down and erected another giant banner roadside provocation to BMW. It cleverly stuck to BMW’s regrettable chess theme. In response, BMW purchased an enormous banner across the street from Audi’s billboard. After that BMW erected its “Checkmate” billboard. Audi again launched another billboard ad with a chess-related sarcasm. Ultimately, BMW won the competition with its final response.


In October 2011, Apple was preparing to launch its latest version of its flagship mobile device, the iPhone 4S. It was expected that this is going to be one of the most hotly anticipated tech events of the year. Then Samsung made a plan to crash Apple’s party. They erected a pop-up store just a few feet away from Apple’s prestigious event site in Sydney, Australia. While eager Apple waited patiently to get their hands on the new iPhone, Samsung fixed to sell its Galaxy SII device for just $2 AUS. It was a mere pocket change compared to Apple’s $850 iPhone. Some people managed to resist this tempting offer, but many more still chose to go with a brand-new Samsung device rather than to wait in line for the iPhone 4S. Samsung took an enormous financial hit with its iPhone launch event stunt. This incident proved how easy it can be to ride the coat-tails of one of the world’s biggest brands.


We know that Apple is one of the wealthiest companies in the history of mankind. Then it is obvious that it easily gets attention. Another classic ambush marketing example of a company benefiting from Apple’s advertising was back in 2010 Apple’s colourful iPod Nano. It was among the most popular MP3 players in the market. For advertisement of its iPod Nano line, Apple erected a banner ad beside Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal which was displaying the vividly colourful MP3 players in a rainbow-ribbon arrangement. Finding an opportunity, a paint and hardware firm from Canada called Rona seized its chance. Rona soon erected its banner beneath Apple’s iPod ad to advertise the company’s new paint recycling program. The ad had the slogan “We collect leftover paint,” was very brilliantly simple. This was one of the best advertisement plans and most creative examples of ambush marketing.


It was an incident which happened twenty-three years ago, during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. [4] On July 29, 1996, Michael Johnson won gold in the 400m dash finishing in 43.49 seconds. As the competitors were standing still tall, muscular and graceful, Johnson blew past them. The main focus of people was the gold-coloured shoes that Johnson wore during the match costing about $30,000 per pair, a lightweight racing spikes shoe given to him by Nike. Millions of television viewers saw those Nike shoes on their screens and after that millions of Americans saw those same pairs slung around his neck a day later on the cover of Time Magazine.

It was considered the most successful piece of marketing for any Olympic sponsor but there was a small problem that Nike was not an Olympic sponsor. Nike decided it could advertise the brand in the 1996 games in other ways Instead of paying for an official sponsorship.


If we see the laws made by different countries then we find a few countries like South Africa have made some strong laws against ambush marketing. They have enacted the Trade Practices Act which makes ambushing by association a criminal offence. Another one is the Merchandise Marks Act (MMA) of the ambush by infiltration where the government has declared to protect an event." Prohibited acts include:

1. Placement of an advertisement on the outskirts of an event;

2. Alluding a protected event even if there is no proposal that the advertiser is a sponsor; and

3. To bring a product to the attention of people who are interested in the event. Organizers of the 2003 World Cricket Cup in South Africa based on these laws bragged that they can take help of police in enforcing these protections. Several other countries have also enacted strict protections against ambush marketing.

There are two types of ambush marketing:

(1) ambush marketing by association where certain types of things may be actionable under the Lanham Act which put forward for consideration that the advertiser is a sponsor of the event (selling fake World Cup t-shirts) and

(2) Ambush marketing by encroachment, which exploits the publicity surrounding an event without signifying any official association (distributing samples of the company's sports drink outside the World Cup venue).

Few other countries have gone as far as South Africa for example China. China, in the process of preparation for the Beijing Olympics 2008, banned those activities that will make third parties think that there is some kind of sponsorship relationship among the users and the owners of Olympic symbols. Similarly, in the 2000 Sydney Olympics also, Australia made those activities illegal that would suggest that an advertiser is or was a sponsor of the Olympics. In Athens Olympics also Greek organizers implemented a policy called "Clean Venue Policy," where they explicitly banned ambush marketing as well as " signs, banners and commercial items containing logos of other competitive companies to sponsors (t-shirts, hats, bags, etc.), unauthorized signs, and advertising print material. Olympic agents were given instruction not to use shoes with non-sponsor logos.

In the 2004 Boston Marathon, Adidas was the official sponsor. Its competitors found different ways in it as Reebok vans distributed Gatorade drink, Bars and massages. Nike opened expert running consultations at its Nike store on Boylston Street. Brooks reps handed out bandages and "runner's rescue guides". SAUCONY a shoe company ran an ad campaign featuring 26 local runners and New Balance finish line instant photos were provided.






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