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“We keep seeing an upsurge in ‘Ambush Marketing.’ Ambush marketing is a marketing / advertising / promotional campaign that takes place around an event but does not involve payment of a sponsorship fee. Brands pay to become the ‘exclusive’ and ‘official sponsor’ of the high-level event, usually in a particular category or categories. Other brands then find ways to promote themselves in connection with the same event, without paying the sponsorship fee and without breaking any laws. Tricky and controversial examples:
- On the way to the Opening Ceremonies, I saw it with Nike and Fuji in Los Angeles at the ’84 Olympics. Converse and Kodak were the official sponsors, in their categories. Few remember that.
- In the ’92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona: Nike sponsored press conferences with the U.S.A. basketball team despite Reebok being the official sponsor. During ceremonies, the players covered their Reebok logos.
- In the ’94 Winter Olympics; American Express sponsored the Games despite Visa being the official sponsor.
- In ’96 a British sprinter used contact lenses with Puma logos embossed.
- At the ’02 Boston Marathon, Nike sprayed Swooshes on runners at the finish lines.
- In the ’06 World Cup, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, Bavaria Brewery doled out orange lederhosen stamped with its logo.
- Proctor & Gamble, in 2009, handed out cans of Pringles labeled ’These are not tennis balls.’
- At the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Kulula (South African airline) pulled back its ambush ad after a FIFA complaint that it infringed its trademark during the ’10 World Cup. Kulula.com’s ad described the company as the ’Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What.’ Also during the tournament, in an incident similar to the ’06 World Cup, two Dutch women were arrested and 36 women ejected from the stadium when they were spotted wearing short orange dresses made by the Dutch brewery. Anheuser–Busch InBev’s Budweiser was the official beer of both events.”
— Larry Steven Londre,