Ambush Marketing Case Study(Bavaria Beer’s ambush at the 2010 FIFA World Cup)

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Marketing case studies.
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What is Ambush Marketing?

When embracing ambush marketing a brand attempts to attach itself to an event without paying official sponsorship rights. Certain requirements must be adhered to (usually the avoidance of using specific terms and slogans in marketing), but if executed correctly the practice is entirely legal. However, ambush marketing poses certain ethical and moral questions which could potentially have a negative effect on a company or brand’s image/reputation.

Bavaria Beer’s ambush at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

On June 14 2010, Bavaria Beer was accused of initiating an ambush during the FIFA World Cup soccer match between Denmark and the brand’s home country of the Netherlands. Mid-way through the game, 36 female members of the crowd were ejected by FIFA security (FIFA is the governing body of world soccer), with the FIFA citing “a clear ambush marketing activity by a Dutch brewery company”. The crowd members were all models, dressed in identical orange dresses which were part of a gift pack offered by Bavaria Beer. Although the company had made efforts to ensure that the dresses were recognized in association with the beer (Sylvia van der Vaart, wife of the prominent Dutch soccer star Rafael, was approached to model the dress to raise brand awareness) the ambush itself was likely to be low-key until the ensuing controversy elevated the stunt to an issue reported worldwide across all media platforms. FIFA was criticized for its handling of the situation, going so far as to arrest two of the participants for their role in orchestrating the ambush. Many felt that the punishment was too severe, but FIFA insisted with some justification that it was going to necessary lengths possible to protect the interests of its official sponsors.

Ironically, the heavy-handedness of the actions taken by FIFA has probably guaranteed the brand far more exposure than if they had allowed the ambush to continue unpunished. As far as organizing bodies are concerned, this highlights the importance of judging the
appropriateness of a response. Successful ambushes are by their very nature difficult to defend against, so there must be a high degree of consideration regarding how the media and general public will respond to the defense.

This was not the first time Bavaria Beer ambushed the FIFA World Cup. In June 2006, the brand gave out free branded orange lederhosen to around 1,000 Dutch fans to wear at a game between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast. The fans were not allowed into the stadium wearing the lederhosen, and instead were forced to watch in their underwear. The fact that ambushes have occurred at consecutive events heightens anticipation about what the brand might do next time (in 2014, when the World Cup is to be held in Brazil). This kind of elevated interest/anticipation in a brands’ activities give it a stronger platform to generate added exposure (and possibly sales), which only serves to highlight the attraction of embracing ambush marketing.

  1. […] Ambush Marketing Case Study(Bavaria Beer’s ambush at the 2010 FIFA World Cup) […]

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