online marketing psychology

March 23, 2010

The danger of sponsoring a big event

Being an official sponsor for a big event like the World Cup Football or Olympic Games costs a lot of money. Money that is additional to any campaigns or initiatives at these events.

That is why a lot of brands try to be the unofficial sponsor. Getting the attention without paying the official price. There is a term for it, it's called ambush marketing.

Using event names and logos among other things is not possible. So it requires some creativity from brands to use this to their advantage. This goes from sneaky TV ads to taking control of a hosting city's billboard space.

At the past Olympic Winter games American carrier Verizon used some winter sports analogy in its commercial despite  AT&T being the official sponsor.

The upcoming FIFA World Cup already knows some of its adversaries:
  • Pepsi released and ad called "Oh Africa". Situated in Africa, featuring three international stars playing a game of football. Giving official sponsor Coca-Cola already a warning before the event has even started.
  • South African airline brand Kalula put out an ad avoiding any direct references, calling the World Cup The You-Know-What. A rather playful ad which promptly got the attention of the FIFA lawyers.

Although ambush marketing is situated in a gray zone, it is competition. So it requires the official sponsors to think these possible attacks through and try to prepare against them.

After all, if you pay that much money, you should not be caught with your pants down!

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