A spring and summer of ‘intense ambush marketing activity’ should be expected ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, experts at the Centre for the International Business of Sport (CIBS) have said.
Based at Coventry University Business School, the CIBS said a growing number of ambushing cases likely to emerge as the year progresses, despite the fact legislation is sometimes in place to protect against ambushing.
Professor Simon Chadwick, chair in Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University’s Business School and one of the academics behind the study, said: “This summer’s mega sporting events are likely to be as interesting off the field as they are on it. Ambushers are set to pounce to ensure that official partners and sponsors don’t have things their own way. We are likely to see ambushers engaged in activities ranging from rival advertising through to the distribution of free gifts and the use of images deliberately designed to mislead consumers about who the ‘official’ sponsors are.
“Host countries are undoubtedly learning the value of legislation to protect official sponsors at past Olympic Games, and the importance of appropriate legal action. Event rights holders must now consider even greater exclusive marketing zones surrounding venues, and a continued presence of ‘ambush police’ with the authority to protect their sponsors’ investment, in order to prevent ambushers from capitalizing on the attention surrounding these mega events.”
Nick Burton, CIBS researcher, said: “Just as sponsorship has become big business, so too has ambushing. Corporations that have missed out on the big sponsorships are going to great lengths to undermine their rival’s sponsorship of sporting mega events.
“Countries staging major sporting events are taking ambush marketing seriously, using legislation where necessary. Failure to do can seriously affect their chances of hosting similar events in the future because of their inability to attract sponsors, who will question whether event sponsorship is the most beneficial way of spending their marketing budgets. Without this considerable investment organisers will not be able to cover the cost of staging major sporting events.
“There are serious lessons to be learnt from what happens this summer, especially in the run-up to London 2012. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) will be taking a zero tolerance approach to ambushing. It is essential that businesses are aware of what is deemed to be ambushing and what the ramifications will be of being identified as an ambusher. Ambushing is a serious matter that we all need to understand, otherwise it will prove incredibly costly for some people in the not too distant future.”