Ambush Marketing and Sponsorship of an Event

Sponsorship of an Event

What is meant by corporate sponsorship?

Corporate sponsorship is a commercial arrangement whereby a sponsor will pay a sponsorship fee and in return receives certain exclusive rights. As is often the case, in addition to the payment of the fee, the sponsor also supplies the sponsored party with their products or services.

For example, Sony is a corporate sponsor for the Football World Cup meaning that they pay a sponsorship fee to be recognised and associated with the event. They will also supply their equipment to be used by FIFA and the Local Organising Committee during the operation of the event.

What do sponsors get in return for this sponsorship fee?

The corporate sponsors who pay the sponsorship fee will expect in return to have exclusivity in the use of the official marks, logo’s and other designations and be given unique advertising and promotional opportunities, certain on site concessions, certain franchise and product sales together with the right to describe themselves as the official sponsors of the event in their marketing and promotional campaigns.

Ambush Marketing

What is meant by Ambush Marketing?

Ambush marketing is a practice that is often associated with many events, not just sporting. It is an activity whereby companies who are not official corporate sponsors and who have not paid a sponsorship fee try to associate themselves with the event and try to create the impression to consumers that they are official sponsors of the event. It is often referred to as parasitic marketing which shows the contempt that it is held in by companies who pay for associations with events.

It can be achieved in a number of ways, with two of the main being through advertising and through on site promotions.

Advertising can be anything leading up to the event such as television advertising – prior to this summer’s World Cup for example, many companies will base their advertising around the tournament with some even going as far as running promotional campaigns whereby tickets can be won. On site promotions can range from anything from strategically placed posters either near the venue or on the way to the venue, i.e. at the train station many of the spectators will be using, to handing out products for the spectators to carry into the stadium.

The advertising pre-event will often be undertaken by any company simply trying to boost their sales through an association with an event which has the British public talking whereas on site promotions will often be run by companies in direct opposition to the corporate sponsors of the event.

What is the problem with ambush marketing?

If other companies are able to freely associate themselves with an event it will dramatically decrease the value of the rights and therefore the exclusivity which the official sponsors have paid so much money for through their sponsorship agreements.

Examples of ambush marketing              

For the 1984 Olympic Games which were held in Los Angeles Converse was an official sponsor. During the event a competitor of theirs, Nike built large scale murals near the Los Angeles Coliseum.

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For more information on:

  • What legal protection is there to prevent ambush marketing?