Ambush Marketing

Do you know what ambush marketing means?

It is an English term that refers to ambush marketing: it is the particular strategy that leads some brands to “take advantage” of the media visibility given by a particular event, but without being the official sponsor or having paid for the purchase of advertising space within it.

We all know that the World Cup, the Olympic Games or the Super Bowl catalyze the gaze of millions of people: and the manuals trace this practice back to the 1984 Olympic Games, when competition between the two giants of photographic technology led to the victory not of the official sponsor, but of the one who had bought the most advertising space, so that, in the eyes of the public, he was the real financier of the event. The first example of Ambush Marketing, perhaps.

From this case history, the sponsorship contracts of these major events have preferred to provide detailed and precise forms of protection so as not to allow brands that were not in the exclusive status of sponsors to enjoy the benefits of global visibility.

Ambush marketing is a practice that travels in the obscure territories of legality and creativity, so while companies can preserve their rights to advertising, competitors can (and often do) invent new, entirely legal strategies to circumvent these limits.

An example is given by the video that we link you: in 2010 in Houston, after a major baseball game at the stadium, about 10,000 people went out to attend the fireworks in front of the stadium itself, when the attention of this large crowd was catalyzed by some 3D projections on the facade of a building with a video installation of giant ants, put to sponsor a well-known brand of insecticide that of course had nothing to do with the match.

And if the legal regulations limit the use of the spaces covered, we must also consider what is the last frontier of marketing: augmented reality.

In the meanders of technology and social networks, in fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to regulate a world whose rules are constantly changed by the users who live in it.

Ambush marketing does not only take place during major events, but it can often also exploit the recognizability that a brand has in the collective imagination to connect to it, or to counter it with its own weapons.

In short, beyond the legal issues, doing ambush marketing means a little ‘take advantage of the glory by climbing, at the last moment, on the cart of the winner: a game a little’ dirty, in short. But if we talk about moral questions, then it remains to be asked: when was marketing ever a clean game?