Ambush Marketing at World Cup

The only thing that’s making quiet a buzz during FIFA WC 2010 is not only Vuvuzela or as some call it Stadium Horn but also in the media circuit, the Ambush Marketing.

So imagine where you plan a huge party and invite elite but while you were planning there was no support of any kind from your room mate at all and s/he refuses to share the cost. Now on the day of the party the room mate shows up and enjoys as much as you do and is able to reap all the benefits without having to plan with you or pay up for the expenses. Now don’t you feel cheated? The freeloader is able to distribute not only his contact cards but also had an equal opportunity to make an impact.

What if this party cost you $ 20 Million or above???

Yeah! that’s what Ambush Marketing is…

As explained in wikipedia, Ambush Marketing is a marketing campaign that takes place around an event but does not involve payment of a sponsorship fee to the event. For most events of any significance, one brand will pay to become the exclusive and official sponsor of the event in a particular category or categories, and this exclusivity creates a problem for one or more other brands. Those other brands then find ways to promote themselves in connection with the same event, without paying the sponsorship fee and without breaking any laws.

FIFA plays very heavy to protect official brand sponsors, who are made to shell out over $1.2 billion collectively for the status. And at the current stat over 2000 complaints are pending with the governing body as FIFA tackles subversive marketing at the global equivalent to the Super Bowl.

This time around we saw some very good executions of Ambush Marketing by Nike & Pepsi who almost hijacked the FIFA World Cup 2010.

Case Study: Nike

It is most notable that how non-FIFA partner Nike is stealing the spotlight from official sponsor Adidas, resulting into generating double the amount of online searches.

Fans are still talking about Nike’s “Write the Future” ad, which spiced up the excitement through its star studded  viral ad, featuring soccer superstars like Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Cannavaro.

Nike very beautifully showcased the impact of game moves like pass, shot and tackle, each crucial enough to potentially change the life of a player, or even the nation.

They even included a shot of Wayne Rooney in a caravan slum facing shame after failing to bring glory to his nation.

So far the Viral Ad has over 16 million views and Nike has also embedded an exclusive 10 minutes behind-the-scenes video on its Facebook page. In order to view it, you got to “like” it. Queit an effective method to gain likes for its page with over 1.2 million already in place.

With those results Nike indeed with its viral ad gets in place a more cost effective strategy than sponsoring the event. What do you think?

Case Study: Pepsi

Another player which managed to get their Ambush Marketing right during FIFA World Cup is Pepsi.


They again launched a viral ad which featured World class players Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Ricardo Kaká, Frank Lampard, Andrei Arshavin and Didier Drogba with multi platinum selling artist Akon whose smash new track  ‘Oh Africa’ accompanies the advertisement adding lot of WOW factor resulting into Pepsi generating a huge buzz online.

The video has received more views and attention than Coke’s videos since it went viral in March. It is a two-and-a-half minute high-budget video and is considered a World Cup video even though Pepsi does not directly associate itself with the competition.

Pepsi Ambush Marketing- Phase II

So when Argentina’s famous and most controversial former soccer star and current coach Diego Maradona made a wacky promise ‘if Argentina were to win the World Cup, he would run through the streets of Buenos Aires naked’, Pepsi was quick to capitalize on this quote.

They took out the Print Ads in Argentina featuring a Pepsi bottle with no label and only a tag around the neck with “If the coach goes naked, we will, too“.

Pepsi promises that if Argentina wins and Maradona stands to his naked victory lap promise, they will distribute Pepsi bottles in Argentina for one week with no label.

Now if Argentina wins or not and weather Maradona keeps to his wacky promise or not Pepsi clearly emerges as a winner in this whole deal for me. Pepsi’s idea is fun, creative and well timed to strengthen it’s association with the World Cup, even though it isn’t the official sponsor.

Imagine if Argentina does win the world cup, Pepsi will have very clever and cost-effectively association with the most joyous moment for Argentina. Brilliant!!!

Anubhav Sharma
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