Ambush marketing is the practice by which a company attempts to
associate its products or services with an event without paying to
become an official sponsor of that event. Businesses sometimes do
this as a way to get more customers while at the same time saving
money on the cost of sponsorship.
This happened recently when telco giant Telstra decided to
associate itself with the Rio Olympic Games, presumably for the
obvious marketing benefits of being linked to a universally popular
and widely televised sporting event. Another factor in
Telstra's decision to take this course of action could have
been that its arch-rival, Optus, was an official sponsor of the
Telstra not an official sponsor of the Rio Olympic Games
Instead of paying the substantial fee necessary to sponsor the
Olympic Games as an official partner, Telstra took the more
circuitous path of becoming the "technology sponsor" of
the Channel 7 television coverage of the event and the related
smartphone application. Both of these were very clearly connected
to the Olympics.
Australian Olympic Committee takes Telstra to court
Telstra ran television commercials featuring Peter Allen's
famous song "I go to Rio" and highlighting Telstra's
role as Channel 7's technology sponsor. The Australian Olympic
Committee (AOC) wanted to protect the official sponsors of the
Olympic Games and was concerned that busy people often recall an
ambush marketer even more than an official sponsor, potentially
handing the ambusher the advantages of being an official sponsor
without having to pay the substantial fees required.
The AOC took legal action against Telstra in the Federal Court,
claiming that Telstra had engaged in misleading and deceptive
conduct and that its advertisements would indicate the existence of
Olympic sponsorship to a reasonable person.
case a - The case for the AOC
case b - The case for the Telstra
Telstra is misleading people into thinking it's a sponsor
of the Olympic Games when it is only a sponsor of a TV station
They gave their advertising agency a particular ambush
marketing brief, asking the agency to "own an association with
The Telstra ad campaign (albeit via their Channel 7 deal)
clearly relates to the Rio Olympic Games - the TV advertisement
even uses the famous Peter Allen song, "I go to Rio"
We are the official technology sponsor of the Channel 7 Olympic
broadcast and "Olympics on 7" app
We have been careful to have to have the wording of our support
approved by the AOC
All advertising explicitly states we have a sponsorship with
Channel 7, not the Olympic Games
So, which case won? Cast your judgment below to find out.
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