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Ambush Marketing

What is Ambush Marketing?

Ambush means a surprised attack by a person waiting in a concealed position. Ambush marketing is a marketing strategy where a company ambushes its competitor's marketing efforts in order to gain an upper hand in the market in terms of exposure by stealing the spotlight from him.

It is also known as coat-tail marketing or predatory ambushing. It a practice of coopting another advertiser's campaign and efforts to raise awareness of another brand or company.

The term Ambush Marketing was coined by marketing strategist Jerry Welsh, while he was working as the manager of global marketing efforts for American Express in 1980s.

The motive of the ambusher is to mislead the customer into believing that it has an official link with the said event. Ambushers do not use the trademarks of third parties but rather creatively imply to an event and use their own trademarks to display a connection with that particular event.

This marketing technique is more distinguished at sports events. Any campaign by a brand at a big sporting event can get the most out of the crowd attending the event and also the television audience as well. This way it becomes efficient in terms of the advertising costs and helps in advertising for those companies which are aiming to get the exposure in different countries.
This technique of ambush marketing is rightly called as parasitic marketing due to its very nature of the process which it follows of living off the official brand's goodwill and reputation by misleading the society into thinking that there is a link between the two.

Types of Ambush Marketing

  • Direct Ambush Marketing

    This involves intentional efforts by an individual brand or company to make itself seem associated with an event for which it has no rights.
  • Predatory Ambushing

    A predator is an animal that lives by preying on other animals. Similarly, in predatory ambushing the company or brand intentionally attacks the opposite brand's advertising efforts to attain the spotlight and to confuse the public.
  • Coattail Ambushing

    A coattail is the loose back flap of a coat that hangs below the waist. In coattail ambushing it's the brand's effort to directly associate itself with an event by using an association other than becoming the sponsor of the same.

    For instance, Adidas sponsoring a football player participating in the football cup sponsored by Nike.
  • Self-Ambushing

    In this kind of ambush marketing the official sponsor performs activities beyond and above of what was already decided in the contract. For instance, offering freebies to the audience.
  • Indirect Ambush Marketing

    This involves a brand associating itself indirectly with another event either through creating an allision by using similar images or setting up a promotional presence at or near the event without making any specific reference to the event.

Examples of Ambush Marketing

  • Pepsi ambushed Coca Cola in 2014 Football World Cup
    Coca Cola became the official marketing partner of FIFA and had a marketing, branding and activation exclusivity in the category relating to FIFA and World Cup of evert Football World Cup.

    Pepsi ambushed this marketing effort of Coca Cola by signing 19 distinguished football players. Though not associated with the actual event, Pepsi's marketing activities made it look like it was associated with it and this affected Coca Cola.
  • DHL vs The Competitors
    DHL is one of the most distinguished brands when it comes to delivery. Apart from being fast, they do have a witty mind when it comes to ambush marketing. DHL, instead of advertising this fact, played a trick on their competitors by making them deliver a big box which said - DHL is faster.

Laws in India

Past experiences of our country with ambush marketing has made it clear that how important it is for us to have proper laws that can prevent the agenda behind the ambush marketing and can protect the interests of the customers as well as the owners.

At present, India has not enacted any specific anti ambushing laws. But still there are few Acts which might help addressing the issue of Ambush Marketing.
  • The Copyright Act, 1957
  • The Emblems and Names (Prevention or improper use) Act, 1950
  • The Trademark Act, 1999

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