Ambush Marketing

Written by Linda Alexander
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Ambush marketing involves strategically placing marketing materials at events in order to attract consumer and media attention. It's called "ambushing" because generally, an event will have official sponsors who have paid for the privilege of advertising exclusively at the event, while the ambushers (often direct competitors of the official sponsor) seek to undermine the official sponsorship marketing. Despite its martial moniker, ambush marketing is direct, effective, and a proven guerilla marketing method.

There is nothing unethical about ambush marketing when it's defined as attracting attention at events. However, various sources on the Internet have recently implied that ambush marketers "steal" sponsorship publicity without paying the often hefty sponsorship fees. Don't let this attitude keep your from considering ambush marketing. So long as there is room in the market for both companies, there is no reason why it should be considered unethical.

How to Begin an Ambush Marketing Campaign

First, identify opportunities at which you can capitalize. Pay attention to media buzz about upcoming activities, sporting events, celebrity appearances, and protests. If the event is likely to attract media attention, you must then determine how to incorporate your information into the media coverage for the event. Executing a successful, legal ambush campaign is challenging, yet the payoff can be huge in terms of the return on your investment.

There are many methods of getting your message seen in a bold fashion. For example, using models in bikinis with your company's logo painted on their bodies is a relatively bold way to attract onlookers. A surprise attack might involve an individual or group in the crowd holding up a sign with your logo, just as the camera is focused on them. Study ambush marketing campaigns of the past and analyze why they were or were not successful--then put those conclusions to use for your own product.


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