To Sponsor or Ambush?

The World Cup has come to a close. Have you fallen into football withdrawal? Well don't despair, I thought we could enjoy it a bit longer with a discussion of ambush marketing and some of the advertising campaigns that came out of this year's championship. Clearly, major sporting events are financed largely by sponsorships, which in turn, give sponsoring companies the opportunity to get some major face-time with fans. Sponsorship grants category exclusivity to one brand, allowing them to hold-off their competitors from associating with that event. So if you have a major advertising budget, the question becomes do you sponsor, or do you ambush? Whenever there is a major sporting event like the World Cup ambush ads begin to appear, bringing to mind the current sporting event without actually mentioning the event itself (or showing any protectable marks or images related to that event). Most consumers are unaware they have been ambushed and the advertiser reaps the benefit of appearing to be a sponsor. Recent trends have moved towards higher protection of these major events; however, there is currently no legal recourse for a well-articulated ambush marketing campaign. Nike, for example, has often chosen against sponsoring large sporting events, instead blazing the trail on how to execute an effective ambush marketing campaign. Nike has gotten away with its clever ads for years, but as discussed in my earlier post that isn't the case for everyone who tries this method. So, is this underhanded? Maybe. Is it creative? I'd have to say, yes. Do you think the high price tag for sponsorships at the World Cup or Olympics justify greater legal protection? Does your answer depend on who's sponsoring and who's ambushing. What if it is two major companies like Coca-Cola (a FIFA Partner) and Pepsi (unaffiliated)? Now, what about when FIFA Sponsor Budweiser is ambushed by 36 women in orange dresses promoting the Dutch beer Bavaria? Should small-budget companies be held-off from any and all advertising? What are your thoughts? After the jump, take a look at the advertising campaigns of some of FIFA's sponsors and come back tomorrow to see their ambushers' advertisements. Coca-Cola: Adidas: Budweiser:

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