Ambush marketing is the practice of associating a company with an event with purchasing sponsorship rights. This is typically a predatory practice that events do not care for, especially major international sporting events. Best tips for ambush marketing include purchasing airtime on television or radio play around the event, setting up stands or selling booths near the event and using graphics or pictures that look similar to the event’s logo. Though companies often engage in these marketing strategies, it can be a dangerous legal minefield. If the company’s marketing infringes on the event or copyrighted logos, a company may be liable for fees and penalties.
Many major events air their games or other activities on television and radio programs. Companies may be able to purchase airtime for their commercials to promote products, capitalizing on the association factor of marketing. While the company is unable to directly reference the event, consumers may believe the marketing company has some association with the event. Ambush marketing must be free from direct logos or other identification that makes it look like the company actually has some association with the event. Companies can also conduct heavy marketing campaigns leading up to the event that increase the association factor.
Street marketing is another ambush marketing tactic. Companies can place physical booths or other workers near the event location. While some areas immediately around the event may not be available, other areas close by will certainly be available. Companies can place signs and other advertisements that attract attendees’ attention. Street vendors may also be mobile, moving up and down streets near the event; this allows the company to cover more ground for ambush marketing.
Advertisements may work better in ambush marketing when a company uses a closely designed theme or logo. While companies must be careful to not encroach on copyrights or other protections, near copies are possible. Companies can place these logos in commercials placed on television commercials or signs around the event. Most of these near copies include the company’s own logo or marketing tool, increasing the awareness of the company with the event. The ultimate purpose of this marketing technique is to distract consumers away from the event in order to promote the company’s products.
Two downsides to ambush marketing are increasing sponsorship costs and lawsuits from trademark infringement. When companies do not purchase the event sponsorships, the event managers must compensate by charging higher fees. As mentioned earlier, copying trademarks too closely can result in trademark infringement.