The term Ambush Marketing was coined by Jerry C Welsh. It happens when an unauthorised entity, having not acquired any license or a right from the event organisers, markets itself in such a way that it gives the general perception to the public at large that the entity is associated with the event. This permits the unauthorised entity to suggest its involvement in a sporting event at the cost of official sponsors. Therefore it is also known as ‘parasite marketing.’ The popularity and the earning of different sports do not only depends upon the viewership, there are other factors which shape and support it, like commercial rights. Mr. Norman Mandel, the Business Affair Counsel of Coca-Cola, a sponsor of major International sports events has described the practice of ambush marketing as ‘stealing and thievery.’ There are different categories of Ambush Marketing:

1)    Direct Ambush Marketing: This kind of Ambush marketing involves direct use of logos and mascots of event organisers.

2)    Indirect Ambush Marketing: This is done by using the logos and mascots of the event organisers not directly but by indirectly. Like broadcasting sponsorship agreements, sponsoring individual teams sponsoring individual events etc.

It is very difficult to bring an action against entities engaged in ambush marketing since they do not infringe on any intellectual property right of any person or any organisation. Non-sponsors fraudulently pass themselves off as the official sponsors of the event by making references to the trademark of that sponsor but without any official authorisation or any permission to use those trademark.

There are different ways of Ambush Marketing, but at its core, they are motivated to draw attention from the leading or official brand onto another brand through various creative work.

Famous Controversies:



In the 1990s, Nike got infamous because of its several ambush marketing schemes. In the 1996 Summer Olympic whose official sponsor was Reebok, Nike set up various pop-up stalls around the athletes’ village. Ranging from the feet of the athletes and on flags waving in fan hands to every imaginable billboard space in the venue of Olympic Atlanta. In the Olympic, US’s sprinter Michael Johnson wore the famous and iconic golden track spikes and shattered the world record to win the gold medal in 400 metres.

There are also other instances of Ambush Marketing by Nike at UEFA Euro 1996 and 1998 FIFA World Cup where the official sponsors were Umbro and Adidas respectively. Nike bought advertising spaces in the locality of the event so as promote its brand and prevent the official sponsors to advertise their products and brands. These practices by Nike led to the adoption of the ‘safe zone’ rules which restrict and prevent the advertisement presences to those of official sponsors within a certain area or region or radius of an event’s place.



Samsung ambushed its rival Apple’s iPhone 4s  smartphone Australian launch in Sydney by setting up pop-up stores near the Apple stores. In those pop stores, the company sold the rival Galaxy S II to the first 10 customers in the line at a whopping price of $2 USD.

Samsung similarly ambushed the launch of its successor iPhone 5 to promote and advertise its flagships at that time Galaxy S III and Note II. Samsung purchased the top keyboard advertisements of the major search engines such as Twitter and YouTube, thus leading to the appearance of ads of Samsung products on the searches relating to iPhone 5.


c1          c2

Beats electronics was founded by rapper Dr Dre, his company did one of the cleverest ambush marketing ever. They gave Union Jack branded Beats Headphones to the members of the team Great Britain. However, Beats did not pay the athletes to sponsor or endorse the product. These special edition headphones were distributed to the athletes for free. This whole thing was a part of the carefully planned act of promoting their brand. Many athletes used this fancy toy while going to the competition, which provided them with the valuable airtime coverage and appreciative tweets from the various famous athletes, all without any heavy price tag of a sponsorship.



Rona is a home improvement brand in Canada. They put up this poster or banner below the poster or banner of Apple’s iPod Nano in Montreal. The test says “Nous récupérons les restes de peinture” which translates into “we recycle leftover paint.”

Apple’s ‘nano-chromatic’ campaign was a global campaign initiated by them, but Rona and its agency Bos were the only ones who pulled off an Ambush Campaign like this.



New castle had their campaign of ‘No-Bollocks’, the beer making put a banner just below from the rival Stella Artois mocking the use of the ‘chalice.’

The fact that Newcastle might have gotten Stella here, albeit the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand’s chalice is working — Stella is growing fast enough to land in top 10 in the list of the world’s most dominant beers.


This was like both the brands have gotten into the street fight in Santa Monica.


In 2009, the German automaker got into infamous billboard fight in Santa Monica, Calif. Audi set up a billboard presenting its A4 with the words “Your move, BMW.” Later, sure enough, BMW responded with the billboard of its M3 and the words “checkmate.” Many fans later took to the Photoshop to create third and fourth responses, which included BMW flying a blimp with the picture of its F1 entry.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: