Top ambush marketing stunts

Governing body of football in Europe UEFA got its knickers in a twist earlier this week when Danish footballer Nicklas Bendter revealed the name of non-sponsor Paddy Power on his “lucky” underpants during a goal celebration at the EURO 2012 tournament. The episode, predictably dubbed “Pantsgate”, came on the same day as it emerged that Olympic chiefs had launched an investigation into Puma’s marketing activity around the 2012 Games. 

An ideal opportunity then for Marketing Week to look at some of the most inventive ambush marketing campaigns to date

The Bavaria girls

The 2010 World Cup was memorable for a host of reasons. There was that Frank Lampard “goal” that never was and the sudden emergence of vuvuzelas as a new form of torture for all. Perhaps, more importantly though the tournament presented a new spin on ambush marketing courtesy of Dutch brewery Bavaria. The brewer took on World Cup beer Budweiser when it hired 36 young women wearing Bavaria branded mini dresses to enter the stands at the Netherlands versus Denmark match. The women, who were all snapped and filmed by cameras during the game, were booted out of the stadium and two were arrested on charges of organising “unlawful commercial activities.”

Linford Christie wears Puma contact lenses

The Olympic gold medal sprinter decided to wear blue contact lenses with the Puma logo at the centre of each eye before the game at a press conference at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The stunt didn’t sit too well with official sponsor Reebeok, which had paid $40m (£25.6m) for the exclusive rights to the event. Reebok was also ambushed by Nike during the same event when the sportswear giant flooded the city with billboards, swoosh banners and built a massive centre overlooking the stadium.


Nike stitches up rival Reebok with press conference stunt

The world’s largest sportswear manufacturer by market share held a sponsors’ press conference with the US basketball team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona,despite rival Reebok being the event’s official sponsor. Nike’s audacity was compounded when team stars and brand ambassadors Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley accepted the gold medal for basketball and covered up the Reebok logos on their kits.


American Express takes swipe at Visa

At the 1994 Winter Olympics, American Express took a cheeky swipe at Visa when it ran a series of ads claiming that Americans do not need “Visas” to travel to Norway to watch the event. The stunt left lawyers and Olympic chiefs perplexed as to whether any rules had been broken.


Kodak defies Olympic exclusivity rights with TV onslaught  

The struggling brand bought extensive TV advertising time during the 1984 LA Olympic Games, leading many to think it was an official sponsor. That honour, however, lay with rival Fuji who had signed a mega deal to sponsor the Games. Fuji got one over on its rival at the following Seoul 1998 Olympics.


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