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June 19, 2012

Ambush Marketing - Shape of things to come!

UEFA's decision to fine Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a sponsor's name on his underpants during a Euro 2012 Football championship has brought Ambush marketing back into focus.

Bendtner was fined $126,000 and banned from playing in Denmark's next competitive game  for flashing his sponsored waistband of Irish bookmaker Paddy Power when he celebrated a goal against Portugal.

Interestingly the company Paddy Power has announced that it will pay the fine on Bendtner's behalf, the hefty fee representing good value for the publicity stunt. Paddy Power has announced on its website that Bendtner was wearing "lucky pants."

For brands entering into the highly competitive and dog eat dog eat sports sponsorship, it's all about capturing eyeballs. It is possible that Bendtner's celebration was seen by at least 100 million pairs of eyes worldwide so that represents a very cost-effective piece of sponsorship.

The beauty of Ambush sponsorship is not just in the execution but in the potential fallout and publicity that follows. The fact that Bendtner was fined and that everyone is talking and writing about it means that it can delivers value for money that other traditional methods could not provide.

Major sporting events have always favorite hunting grounds for ambush marketing. 1984 Olympics was the sporting event where ambush marketing originated. Ambush marketing is a marketing strategy where companies deliberately associate themselves with world famous events so that their brand benefits and capitalizes from such associations.

Normally, this kind of association is limited to the official sponsor who has contributed a considerable amount of time and money for exclusive event association, such as EPL, IPL, NFL, NBA, FIFA world cup, cricket world cup and Olympics

1984 Olympics when the International Olympic committee (IOC) offered sponsorship contracts, it was won by Fuji. However Kodak retaliated by purchasing large amounts of advertising space. Because of Kodak’s extensive advertising during the Olympic Games, the general public generally considered both Kodak and Fuji as sponsors of the event. Fuji thought this to be unfair as they had paid large amounts of money to be the official sponsors, although at that time there was no stipulation anywhere in the contract that competitor’s advertisements were prohibited to run during the games.

For instance, in another example of sports ambush marketing, American Express undermined Visa’s official sponsorship of the 1992 Olympics. American Express ran advertisements that stated “You don’t need a visa to visit Spain”.

Ambush marketing takes toll on the athletics too. In the 1992 Olympics Micheal Jordan faced a very peculiar situation. He won a gold medal in Basketball and had to stand on the podium to receive his gold medal. But the dress of the USA team had the logo of Adidas the official sponsor. Micheal Jordan had to drape a towel thus masking the Adidas logo so that it dose not  clash with his own sponsor Nike.  

Ambush marketing is expected during this year’s London Olympics but according to statements made by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), will take a zero tolerance approach to any form of ambush marketing. Watch this space! 

The link provides more information about ambush marketing:


  1. sir,
    this might be the best way to become famous overnight..
    as many of us not even knowing the name "paddy power" now taking about that name which would help them by Word Of Mouth marketing..
    being a bookmaker all they need was to attract as many as possible online customers for betting, and they can do it for sure by getting more publicity through ambush marketing..

  2. Spot on! You are right. Paddy Power is internationally famous now. But the fate of the player would be interesting to note. He would always be in focus light. Way to go Deepak.