Tomorrow's Hospitality A-Z – Navigating the future

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Ambush marketing encompasses a wide range of marketing activities but can generally be said to be any marketing that takes advantage of the buzz and goodwill surrounding a high-profile event, typically a major sporting event such as the World Cup 2022, despite the advertiser not being an official sponsor or licensee for the event.

Like most organizers of major sporting events, FIFA usually seeks to prohibit ambush marketing techniques by advertisers in connection with its tournaments. For example, for the World Cup 2022, FIFA warned that marketing activities that could create the impression that the advertiser and FIFA had a commercial association when there was no such official relationship were “not permitted and are subject to legal measures.

Despite these warnings, the kick-off of the World Cup 2022 heralded an ambush-marketing avalanche. Notably, however, not all ambush marketers managed to avoid falling foul of the rules.

What legal measures may apply to ambush marketing?

Direct legislation: Unfortunately for would-be ambushers, it is increasingly common for the organizers of prestigious international sporting events (such as the Olympic Games) to require the host country to pass special legislation to protect against ambush marketing in connection with the event.

The powers introduced by such event-specific legislation are typically extensive, but there are normally gaps that savvy advertisers may exploit. Usually, event-specific legislation has only a narrow window of applicability, encompassing the period prior to and during the event in question. Similarly, event-specific legislation is unlikely to apply to ambush marketing campaigns that take place beyond the borders of the host country.

Key takeaways
  • Marketing that suggests a connection between a brand and a high profile event where there is no such official connection is known as ‘ambush marketing’.
  • Advertisers use ambush marketing to direct consumer attention on a particular event towards their brand.
  • Ambush marketing can be attacked from a variety of legal angles.
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