Ambush Marketing – Fad Or Fabulous?

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The soccer World Cup of 2010 has been famous for many controversies, but one of the most interesting had nothing to do with what was taking place on the pitch. During a game between Holland and Denmark it was noticed by officials inside the stadium that 36 female fans were standing together wearing orange miniskirts (the color worn by the Dutch team). As it turned out, these fans were wearing advertising placed by the Dutch brewery Bavaria and were ejected from the stadium. It was the latest in a growing series of “ambush marketing” campaigns by the brewery.

The reason for this title is that the World Cup has its own “beer sponsor”, which is a different company than Bavaria. By the rules laid down by the sport’s governing body, it is forbidden for other companies in specific sectors to advertise inside the stadium if that sector is already represented by another company. By advertising a competing brand, Bavaria had technically broken this law.

The end result of all of this, of course, was that although their advertising was banished from the stadium, Bavaria brewery got a major publicity boost by being mentioned in newspapers the world over, often in articles decrying the corporate stranglehold on the sporting world. Although they had not paid anything like the amount demanded by the governing body to advertise their product, they had received plenty of good publicity – which is the point of ambush marketing. Whatever you think of their tactics, they worked admirably.

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