2010 Fifa World Cup


Dan Hall, iD's Marketing Manager discusses the buzziest buzz term in marketing at the moment - Ambush Marketing - and is it that bad, as it's certainly unavoidable!

Hello, Hello, Hello,

So at time of writing, the World Cup is in week 2 and finally in full swing. Argentina have just humped South Korea 4-1 and look the real deal. Tomorrow it’s England’s turn to turn on the style, not worry about losing and bang in a few goals.

Now suffice to say that football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but as marketers, we can’t help but enjoy the media spectacle and the marketing opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to the blockbuster ads as much as the football… and having watched the first week, the ads have outperformed the matches in a lot of instances. For me, the best ad by a stretch is Nike’s ‘Write the Future’ by W&K Amsterdam. The full length version literally is a blockbuster, running for 7 minutes showing 6 or so of Nike’s biggest superstars and what might be going on in their heads during a game; I’m sure by now you’ve all seen it, although if you haven’t seen the full version, take a look.

Now as much as this is an epic piece of advertising, there’s a big grey area over whether it should be allowed to air as it falls into the category of ‘Ambush Marketing’. Nike isn’t an official sponsor of the tournament and is clearly leveraging the heightened interest in football to target this ad. But what's to stop them, and all manner of other brands doing the same thing? Well, basically, nothing.

As long as brands play by the rules e.g. don’t say ‘World Cup’ or ‘England’s football team’, they’d be foolish not to be reactive to huge events like this. Even one of the most annoying (but arguably for the same reason, best) ads of late has brought in football – We Buy Any Car – which incidentally stars two of the players from the BBC football ident of which I was a player too – sorry to blow my own Vuvezela. Another one that’s got too close to the bone is Nestlé’s Kit Kat ad which features the George Cross colours, England Fans and even Sol Campbell (for some unknown reason). There was talk of it being banned but it’s still not knocking around so I guess it’s deemed okay. The point is this is such a grey area and hard to prevent that official sponsors may as well as stop grizzling and work out how to make the most of the massive investment they've made in being 'official'. Ridiculously, as I write this i've just been handed a piece of rubbish DM from a furniture hire company featuring a terrible mascot holding an England scarf - laugh out loud stuff!

So if we all agree it’s easy to ambush events like the world cup then we should all stop looking at ‘ambush marketing’ as such a big deal and enjoy the creative opportunity it provides to do something tactically clever but within the rules. Roll on the 2012 Olympics where experiential marketing is going to have a huge role to play and offical sponsor or not, every brand is going to have an interest in the huge amount of consumers wandering the streets of London… and Stratford!



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