Guerrilla marketing, also known as ambush marketing, relates to any marketing tactics which are unconventional and sometimes controversial. Guerrilla marketing is often a creative method that can be very effective, but can also end in disaster.
Guerrilla marketing is creative, fun and highly effective
The proponents of guerrilla marketing tactics argue that they are a creative and fun way to market brands using unconventional, creative and cost-effective methods. If done correctly, guerrilla marketing can be highly successful at gaining publicity, which can be priceless if you are a small-to-medium sized business looking to promote your products at high profile events, especially major sporting events whose sponsorship is reserved for those who can pay money for it.
There have been several high profile examples of how brands have managed to hijack major sporting events which have led to an increase in publicity and sales. One of the more often talked about is Wastuch Beers, who printed the unofficial sponsors of the 2002 winter games during the 2002 winter Olympics on their trucks and gained more publicity than the official sponsors without paying a penny. Their competitors, Anheuser-Busch, shelled out an eye-watering $50 million for the privilege of being associated with the games.
Understandably, this method of advertising is not popular with everybody. The Olympic Games relies heavily on the revenue from sponsorships to fund the event and these types of guerrilla tactics can damage the value of a sponsorship and it is not just small businesses that use ambush tactics, Nike have famously hijacked sporting events on more than one occasion. Unfortunately for sponsors and games organisers alike, there is this depressing statistic that 60% of people cannot identify any corporate Olympic sponsors.
While there have been some attempts at legislating against these kinds of marketing tactics they are usually ineffective with guerrilla marketing teams managing to get past the restrictions. Part of the problem is that guerrilla marketing is not illegal and very often attempts to reprimand the brand results in even more publicity. In the case of Wastuch Beers, they had not used the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘official’ in their advert.
The advancement and spread of technology has created ever more problems for legislators, with many predicting that the majority of ambushing techniques are expected to come from online and social media. In a defensive move, the recent guidelines released The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have already released the following guidelines:
“There are challenges with international enforcement of legal rights where social networking is involved. However the principle remains – if a business uses social networking for the clear purposes of ambush marketing in the UK, we can take action for infringement of our legal rights.”
“If the ambush activity is outside of the UK, we will work with the IOC and the relevant National Olympic Committee to address the issue – in many countries there are similar laws to those which apply in the UK which prevent ambush marketing of the Olympic Games and these can be used where relevant.”
Traditionally, this type of legislation falls short of tackling the real problem. Previous punishment for ambush marketing has resulted in fines and prison sentences- but only in rare cases and the problem becomes even murkier when activities are online or within social media.
Rather than trying to black out other brands, sponsors and organising commitees should be asking themselves why so few people are really engaging with their brands.Tags:2012, Ambush marketing, Guerrilla Marketing, London, Nike, Olympics