We live in a world where organizations pay billions of dollars to have their logo front and centre during the most watched sporting event of all time (The FIFA World Cup). For the most part, this money is well spent, especially when you’re a company that will see a million-dollar plus revenue boost with as little as a single percentage in market-share increase. These are companies like Adidas and Nike, Budweiser (Anheuser Busch InBev) and Miller (SABMiller), or Microsoft and Apple. For smaller companies looking for a big increase in sales, events like the super-bowl, world-cup, and the Olympics are out of financial reach for prime sponsorship coverage; enter ambush marketing. Depicted in the video above, several beautiful women with the promotional colors and logo of a small Dutch brewery called Bavaria NV dance, strip, and get escorted from the stadium by police… Sounds odd until you learn that Budweiser is an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, and these girls were getting a lot of attention. This is the definition of ambush marketing, and like the guy that strips down naked and streaks across the field with the web address for an online gambling casino, it can receive a lot of attention. The SFU MBA Program in Vancouver has two professors that are particularly interested in this type of marketing, so much so that they’ve published a paper about it.
Leyland Pitt and Michael Parent, both professors for SFU’s Full-Time, 1-Year MBA program are the co-lead authors on a study that focuses on the “Li Ning effect”, a term used to describe being incorrectly identified as an official sponsor. In the case of the Beijing Olympics, the shoe manufacturer Li Ning successfully gained as much presence and attention as the official sponsor Adidas. The Chinese company did this by strategically placing product in prominent locations, namely the torch lighting ceremony during the opening ceremonies. While this example is extreme (heroic Chinese athlete lighting the flame) compared with the single blip that the Bavaria girls created, ambush marketing is a very relevant and effective tool. While ethically it could be looked down upon, the Professors from SFU state that the consumer probably doesn’t care all that much. To make matters worse for the title sponsor, if the big guy is too hard on the smaller ambushers, that small company receives even more fame, credibility, and sympathy.
Leyland Pitt’s constant involvement with current research and significant global events allows his MBA Marketing class to be full of non-traditional and unique marketing lessons. The students benefit from an up-to-date professor who cares about what he teaches, and can provide actionable and effective marketing strategy for the 21st century. Michael Parent also provides current research and findings to his MBA students during the course of his Management of Information Systems class. While less focused on marketing, this class is always a favorite amongst the students as it provides the traditional MIS lessons in combination with social media and internet marketing strategy. For more info feel free to email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.