[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


Time to talk Ambush Marketing

Whenever a big event comes to town, ambush marketing is front of mind for brand owners and marketers.

But what is ambush marketing, and what does it mean for your campaigns?

What’s ambush marketing?

Ambush marketing happens when one brand owner tries to associate its products with an event sponsored by a competitor.

Brands pay huge sums of money for exclusive category bragging rights.

Understandably, sponsors don’t take too kindly to competitors seeking to ride off their coattails.

What laws apply to ambush marketing?

In a nutshell:

  • Misleading and deceptive conduct – by implying an association where none exists, the offending brand owner is misleading the public into believing they have an official association.
  • Specific major events legislation – The Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Act 2015 (Cth) protects organisers and sponsors of various sporting events, including the Cricket World Cup 2015, the Asian Cup 2015 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This legislation may be expanded to cover other major events.
  • Sports governing bodies often control rights in the use of a sport’s brand – both the IOC and AOC have rights over the use of Olympics emblems (e.g. the rings, torch and flag) and logos. The Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Cth) governs the commercial use of ‘Olympic expressions’, including ‘Olympics’ and ‘Olympic Games’ and similar words or expressions.
  • Intellectual property laws – the logos for most (if not all) major events will be registered trade marks. 

What does this mean for my campaign?

If you’re not an official sponsor, keep clear of directly referencing the event in your marketing.

There is scope to be clever, and to cash in on the ‘feel good’ factor, but given the complexities and consequences for overstepping the mark, tread carefully.

David Kelly is the founder of KHQ Approved, a fixed fee commercial contract review service. Peace of mind from an experienced team for a reasonable price.

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