Guerrilla Marketing Series: Ambush Marketing Tactics and Examples

Welcome to the series of the article on guerrilla marketing. In my previous blog, I have explained what is guerrilla marketing and different types involved in guerrilla marketing. In our upcoming article, I’ll be giving you a detailed explanation about types of guerrilla marketing strategies. If you are looking for in-depth knowledge of guerrilla marketing then don’t forget to read our previous article on Guerrilla Marketing.  

In this article, I have given a brief explanation about how big brands pick ambush marketing tactics as their creative marketing strategies to create a buzz about their product. I’ll be explaining to you, what are ambush marketing strategies and different types of ambush marketing tactics with examples. 

What is Ambush Marketing?

In the 1980s, Jerry welsh coined the term Ambush Marketing. He was working as the manager of global marketing for American express. Ambush Marketing is one of the unique marketing tactics in which companies/brands tend to advertise their product on the place where the same product is already being advertised by another company or by their competitors. Ambush marketing tactics mostly take place in some big events like Football, cricket, Olympic, Basketball, etc where advertisers don’t pay any kind of sponsorship to the event organizers but they try to grab people’s attention on the same event by promoting their product against their competitors. But it requires creative marketing strategies to make your ambush advertising successful. 

Let me explain with you an imaginary example on how big brands adopt unique marketing tactics to highlight their product on the TV screen as well in the stadium. Suppose there is a company called A, who is the official sponsor of a football game and trying to advertise their product men shoes but in the same football game company B has the same product, B is not the sponsor of the game but  trying to advertise their product indirectly by making a banner or by shouting out the company name in a group or by getting camera attention. This type of advertising is called ambush advertising. Generally, ambush means “An attack from a hidden position”. 


Types of Ambush Marketing

1. Direct Ambush Marketing 

In direct Ambush Marketing, brands or company intends to make themselves associated with the event for which they have no right or sponsorship.  

In 1994 FIFA football world cup Sprint communication co. used event logo without any permission from the official sponsor MasterCard and FIFA. 

There are various marketing tactics in Direct ambush marketing. 

Coattail Ambushing

Coattail ambushing is all about advertising a brand and products by sponsoring an individual or related event without obtaining an official sponsorship of the main even or larger event. It happened in the 1996 Olympic Atlanta, Michael Johnson posed by wearing his gold medal and his gold Nike shoe that attracted many people’s attention. Reebok was the official sponsor of the Atlanta Olympic.


Property or trademark Infringement

Property or trademark infringement is all about a brand or local business using the same logos, symbols, tagline words, or phrases referring to a competitor to confuse the consumer or to dilute the marketing space. In the London Olympics organizer and sponsor hired hundreds of officers to watch and observe other brands and local businesses. Local Business or brands could be fined for using words like gold, bronze or summer in their advertisement and campaign. 


In Self – ambushing sponsors try to breach or violate their agreement terms and condition of advertisement with the event by performing activities that are beyond the terms that were decided before signing the agreement. In 2008 UEFA champions league official sponsor  Carlsberg distributed headbands and t-shirt with their logo which was not part of their sponsorship advertisement agreement.

Predatory Ambush Marketing 

In predatory ambushing, Brands and organizations try to confuse consumers over which company or organization is the official sponsor of the main event. Predatory ambushing happened in 1994 winter games where the VISA was the official sponsor of the game but Amex dominated visa by advertising a tagline “ If you are traveling to Norway, you’ll need a passport, but you don’t need a VISA.

2. Indirect Ambush Marketing 

In indirect ambush marketing tactics, brands affiliate with events indirectly to promote their product by seeking people’s attention. Generally, brands try to showcase their presence in the event by creating some unconventional activity that can become eye-catchy. 


Examples of Ambush Marketing 

There are different marketing strategies and tactics used by big brands to subvert the official sponsor of the events.

Kodak vs Fuji (Ambush Marketing strategies, Creative marketing ideas)

In 1984 Olympic kodak used various marketing tactics and ran a series of marketing campaigns stating that they were the official sponsor of the game but in reality, Fuji films were the official sponsor of the game.

1996 Olympic Atlanta (Ambush Marketing strategies, Creative marketing ideas)

In 1996 Olympics help in Atlanta. Nike didn’t pay for Olympic sponsorship but chose to advertise its brand and product using ambush marketing tactics. Nike created the most memorable moment in Olympic. By lining the street of the city of Atlanta with Olympic themed advertisements. Michael Johnson posed by wearing his gold medal and his gold Nike shoe that also created a buzz around the city.

Reebok was the official sponsor of that Olympic and no one remembers Reebok’s advertisement during the Olympics.


Nike Vs Adidas (Ambush Marketing strategies, Creative marketing ideas)

In 2010, ambush marketing took place in the FIFA world cup between Adidas and Nike. Nike created different types of business strategies to promote its product in the FIFA world cup.  Adidas was the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup.                                                            Nike was running TV commercials and advertising its product through football stars like RONALDO, Rooney.

Lastly, Nike successfully created a lot of buzz for its products around the globe in 2010.  Like this, there are a lot of examples of ambush marketing strategies in day to day life.

Bavaria Beer vs Budweiser (Ambush Marketing Example, Creative marketing ideas)

In Fifa world cup Bavaria beer tried to use unique marketing tactics to market their product. It was stated in a report that 36 dutch female fans were dressed with cute little mini-dress. Bavaria’s publicity stunt caught media attention and soon they were highlighted. Later, All 36 dutch female fans were arrested by police.  Officials of FIFA stopped the media coverage for the protection of their official sponsor Budweiser. source -: 

Coca-Cola Vs PepsiCo (Ambush Marketing strategies, Creative marketing ideas)

By spending $400 million on marketing and $85 million in the 2006 Beijing Olympic. Coca-Cola was the official sponsor of the Olympics. Interestingly, 60% of the crowd believed that  PepsiCo was the official sponsor of the game. PepsiCo started an online competition in which 160 million voters from mainland China ranked mugshots sent in by fans. Later, Pepsi also replaced their blue cans with red ones to show respect to the year of China.


In case you want a creative edge for your business and looking for a creative agency, you can reach out to us to make your online business stand out from the crowd.