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Ambush Marketing

22 June 2012

A few weeks ago, during the Euro championship, Italian player, Mario Balotelli has been injured by thousands of Croatians fan who threw him banana’s and welcomed him on the field by imitating monkey screams, this stupid and racist act has been penalized with a 50,000 euro fine for the Croatian federation.   A few days later, a player has been fined 100,000 euros, now let’s guess what he did to have a fine twice as high as the awful racist insult.

I am pretty sure that whatever your guess is you are really far from the truth, to be fined that much this Danish player has been celebrating his goal by lifting up his shirt… That’s it? Yes pretty much, because when he lifted his shirt here is what appeared:

I did not see it at first, but on his underwear you can read “paddy power”, which is an online betting platform, and also one of Bendtner’s sponsors.  Unfortunately it is not the “official” betting sponsor of the competition, so the UEFA decided to give them a fine.  It seems pretty unbelievable that this underwear is a bigger deal than racism, but in sport this act is the symbol of a new form of marketing, “Ambush Marketing”.

During the next Olympics, every athlete won’t be allowed to use tweeter in order to avoid this type of marketing, because companies are paying hundreds of millions to be the “official” sponsor of the Olympics.  London 2012 has got “official cereals”, “official fast food”, “official pizzas”, “official drinks.
Let’s take the example of MacDonald’s which has signed a hundred million deal to sponsor the Olympics until 2020.  What would be the effect of having a superstar Olympic athlete posting a picture of themselves eating at KFC or Burger King? It would be disastrous and this is why the Olympics Committee decided to create a “no social media for the athletes” which is impossible to settle, and I am pretty sure that a lot of athletes will be fined hundreds of thousands dollars just because of this.

But do not worry for them, as it is the case for Bendtner, their sponsors will be glad to pay those fines which are giving them an amazing amount of nearly free advertisement such as “paddy power” which was nearly unknown internationally and which is now quoted in every single newspaper.

Ambush marketing is a perilous way to promote a brand, but it might really be worth it.  But a situation like the one where being racist is considered as “less serious” than a brand name on underwear might strengthen the fact that sports is more and more business and less about having fun.

Anyway I am pretty sure that when you will hear about such cases this summer during the Olympics, you will be able to shine among your friends and debate for hours!

Marketingly yours,

Ben Digne

Marketing Assistant

bendigne@broadgatefinancial.com