The Olympics and the threat of Ambush Marketing

projectmanager - June 2011

The commercial and financial benefits of big global events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, seem increasing in significance to the extent that I sometimes suspect it’s replacing the actual sport, in terms of being the driving force behind why these events even exist.

They become a time of mass public hype, and where there’s public hype there’s advertising. At the 2010 World Cup we witnessed Guerilla Marketing at its sneeky best.

Dutch beer brand Bavaria where booted out and made an example of after their unregistered ‘parasite marketing’ stunt, was brought to justice by FIFA. You’ll probably remember it as, shockingly, the entire block of tickets used by the ladies was allocated by our very own and charming Robbie Earle, who passed on his 50 free tickets to Bavaria beer. Obviously fit dutch girls are enough to get to even the best of us. Sadly, he has now been fired by ITV.

As one of the Holland cheer leaders told The Star newspaper in Johannesburg: “We were sitting near the front, making a lot of noise, and the cameras kept focusing on us.”

Even though the girls were removed and the brand were given bad press, the story was still aired on every news channel (and is still being talked about even today). The stunt was strong enough to overshadowed Budweiser, which was hailed as the new official beer of the World Cup, and jumped from having no measurable online traffic to being the 5th most visited beer website in the UK… job done.

“The beautiful game,” Fifa reiterated, faces a deadly threat: “ambush marketing activities” by firms who wish “to secure themselves a slice of the [World Cup] rewards illicitly without offering any financial support in return”.

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