Ambush marketing strikes one of 2022’s first major sports events.
An ambush marketing scandal has rocked the current Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon with a Nigerian cola company taking on one of the world’s biggest brands. Is it a bold move or just crazy? Jack Rogers, Marketing and Sales Executive, at PromoVeritas takes a closer look into the world of ambush marketing.
Soda brand PopCola, has been intentionally using the Nigerian national football team’s photo in adverts and relating it to the tournament, despite Coca-Cola being the official team sponsor. The Nigerian Football Federation described the campaign as “…a dastardly move and they should be ready to face a legal battle if they do not tender a public apology and desist from such chicanery…” Ambush marketing has always been a grey area of marketing with some claiming it to be reactive and smart and others shunning it as a distasteful infringement when brands capitalise on events that genuine sponsors have paid thousands or millions of pounds to advertise around.
With this latest focus on ambush marketing at the very start of a year filled with big sporting events – from the Six Nations to the World Cup – we thought it was only right to have a look back at some of the most notable pieces of ambush marketing and how you can make sure you stay out of trouble if your brand or agency wants to take a risk.
Super Bowl 2013 – Oreo Blackout
The Super Bowl is always a spectacle, wherever you may reside and 2013 was no different with Giants getting one over on the New England Patriots with it ending 21-17. That does not mean the show ran without a hitch when during the half-time show, the stadium had a 34-minute power outage.
It was Oreo who speedily reacted to the hiccup tweeting a tongue in cheek picture of an Oreo in the Dark with the caption “No Power? No Problem. explaining that “you can still dunk in the dark” which enabled them to become centre of attention without being an official sponsor or crossing any legal lines.
Tokyo 2021 – Microsoft Teams
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics took place a year after the games were originally planned due to the COVID19 crisis in the hopes that travel would once again be on the cards again for spectators.
Microsoft realised that people were missing their trip of a lifetime and created their ‘Ticket to Tokyo’ Campaign just days before the beginning of the Olympics. It highlighted how locals in Tokyo could take people from around the world on virtual tours of their favourite spots in the city, all through Microsoft teams – so not Olympics themed but the connection to Tokyo allowed them to jump on the hype of the games and create publicity.
Butterkist ‘Partygate’ Downing Street Stunt
Despite not being a sports event, Boris Johnson’s Downing Street party scandal has captured the attention of the press and the nation.
Butterkist jumped on the bandwagon by setting up a physical temporary billboard outside Downing Street reading “Here for the drama…” and drawing on a popular trolling meme. This of course took off on social media gaining the company masses of attention through their quick reaction marketing.
2018 World Cup: Autotrader sports marketing
And here is one our team worked on – Autotrader gave away a brand-new car, with PromoVeritas selecting the winner, every time England scored a goal during the 2018 World Cup tournament – all without mentioning the tournament itself – with a campaign that received thousands of entries and millions of views across social media.
The Rules – do not ignore them
All sporting events will have official legislation in place to protect their Intellectual Property from being infringed on by unofficial sponsors. With pressure on the organisers to provide value to official sponsors during these challenging times they will be even stricter about preventing unauthorised advertising. Unapproved use of any of the assets – not always just the logo or the event name – can result in legal action.
If you are not an official sponsor, be very careful about creating any direct link with the event and remember that creativity must always be linked to legality. But you can create memorable moments and sales-generating campaigns through clever ideas and a good understanding of the rules.