The term “ambush” is used to connote the older method of warfare in the present era of commercialization, competition and advertisement.
Ambush marketing is usually employed at the times of big sporting events, where big corporations’ cash is on the names of the sporting events without paying the requisite fee, which constitutes the crux of “direct ambush advertising”. However, it is not sporting events only which become the mode of deploying ambush marketing. Of late, India has witnessed a spurt in the cases of ambush marketing even without any association with the sporting events.
The objectives of ambush marketing are twofold:
- To get maximum returns on the marketing buck and
- To undermine the branding efforts of the rivals by stealing the attention, increasing the clutter and confusing the viewers.
Ambush marketing was first witnessed in 1984 Olympics and the 1996 Cricket World Cup which highlighted the concept in India. During the 1996 World Cup, although Coca Cola was the official sponsor of the tournament, Pepsi ambushed the campaign by coming up with the tagline “nothing official about it”.
India as a nation thrives on cricket as its staple sport. To tackle the issue of direct ambush marketing in cricket tournaments, the ICC and BCCI came up with an agreement for the players in the year 2003, whereby the players were prohibited from appearing in advertisements for companies which were competitors for the sponsoring company. However, the contract just became the focus of a controversy and did not see the light of the day.
Ambush advertisements are an enticing and thrilling mode of advertising. Although ambush advertisement mars the campaign of the first brand, it ends up giving a lot of publicity to both the brands. The campaign sells like hot cakes amongst the media and captures the mindscape of the consumer in seconds. The ethical concerns over ambush marketing are a controversy in itself. Ambush marketing is just an aggressive behavior observed in the commercial arena but it definitely does not revolve around fair practices. Thus, there is a need to draw a line and where it should be drawn has to be decided by a prescribed mode of legislation.