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
competitorís 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 advertiserís 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
brandís 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 brandís advertising efforts to attain the spotlight and to confuse
Coattail Ambushing A coattail is the loose back flap of a coat that hangs below the waist. In
coattail ambushing itís the brandís effort to directly associate itself with
an event by using an association other than becoming the sponsor of the
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,
Pepsiís 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
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