Every company attempts for its brand awareness, and in the process of promoting their product or service, it resorts to methods that are doubt effective but controversial and unethical.
Ambush marketing is the practice of hijacking or co-opting another advertiser’s campaign to amplify awareness of your brand through the main event’s sponsorship. Here, brands usually compete and capitalize by advertising themselves on the event without an official sponsor. Here, the ambushing brand aims to create a misconception in the customer mindset that it has an official association with the event.
One of the most prominent examples of ambush marketing is the bitter feud between MasterCard and Visa during the 1992 Winter Olympics, which was held in Albertville in Southeastern France. Having paid $20 million for the privilege, Visa was the official credit card of the ’92 Winter Games. Months before the games, Visa created TV commercials advertising American Express users to leave their AmEx cards at home as “the Olympics don’t take American Express”.
To help you understand better about ambush marketing, let’s dive deeper into some common examples of this technique in action.
Today, many people seem to have an irrational fear, almost aversion to a friendly wager. Yet, when you walk down any high street, you’ll come across two bookmakers, among the notable of which is the Irish gambling chain Paddy Power.
In the 2012 Olympic Games, Paddy Power’s first foray launched a wide-scale billboard campaign across London, claiming it was the “Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London.” Below, the bookmaker’s fearless claim revealed Paddy Power referring to the town of London, France- but rather a traditional egg-and-spoon race that Paddy Power sponsored
The whole IOC demanded the Irish bookie remove the ads; Paddy Power challenged the IOC’s order in court and ultimately won!
Famous ambushing between the mega automobile manufacturing giants Audi and BMW. The notorious war waged in Santa Monica and California.
In 2009, the war began right after BMW sponsored a tournament in Wisconsin and promoted the same with a slogan meaning this tournament would be like a chess game. Audi decided to set up a billboard for its A4 with the words “Chess? No thanks, I’d rather be driving” to compete with BMW’s slogan. However, the fight ended when BMW shared, “Your pawn is a match for our king”. Although BMW is the winner thanks to countless advertising billboards, Audi claims its billboard was up for a couple of months before BMW.
When you’re one of the most successful companies globally, you’ll attract attention no matter what you do. In 2010, Apple’s colorful iPod Nano was the most popular MP3 player. To promote its new product line, Apple established a billboard ad next to the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal displaying the MP3 players in a vividly colored rainbow- ribbon arrangement.
To bank off the opportunity, Canadian paint and hardware company Rona erected their billboard ad directly beneath Apple’s ad to promote its new paint recycling program. “We collect leftover paint” was simple yet clever.
While ambush marketing is not a viable marketing strategy for most businesses, the costs involved can be prohibitively expensive compared to visual campaigns on Facebook or PPC campaigns. Therefore, consider what you could learn when optimizing your next ambush marketing campaign.