Ambush marketing may seem like a trivial problem to the typical consumer or layperson, but it is a significant issue to official rights holders and interested parties.

With a brand and intellectual property to protect, you need to vigilant and focused. Attempts to compromise or profit illegally off your hard work are always lurking in the shadows.

First off, what is ambush marketing? Ambush marketing encompasses attempts by non- sponsors and non-affiliated parties to create the illusion of commercial association with a brand. Basically, lower-end companies take advantage of serious public awareness surrounding a major event, such as the Super Bowl or the Olympic Games, to promote its product or service without committing any resources to sponsorship. It is tantamount to theft and is an unethical, illegal method of doing business.

This is a particular problem during the Olympic Games. The Olympics are heading to Rio this summer, so brands that are officially affiliated with the IOC and its events need to be aware of nefarious attempts by third parties to take advantage of the massive foot traffic and broadcast coverage.

How Do You Combat Ambush Marketing: Essential Tips

Official sponsors of events have some leeway in combating ambush marketing before they happen. Here are a few ways that official sponsors can battle back against those that might try to leech off publicity and free advertising.

  • Control access to the stadium, including the airspace above. Require the organizers to hand over the stadium in a clean state fashion; meaning free of unofficial advertising. From Maracanã to Monumental Antonio V. Liberti, you will want to ensure that you are controlling your brand's messaging to the intended audience.
  • Make sure that an event organizer is contractually bound to go after ambush marketers and violators. With the Olympic games coming up in Rio de Janeiro, law enforcement will be seeking out those who engage in ambush marketing, and when applicable not only imposing fines — but possible imprisonment as well.
  • Require organizers to conduct official sponsor awareness campaigns to solidify the official sponsor's legitimacy in the public space.
  • Blanket advertising space near the stadia or other event space: Organizers can buy existing billboard space and resell it to the official sponsor.

Even though it is highly unethical, many smaller companies and brash startups look to engage in ambush marketing in order to establish themselves. Tactics include direct ambushing, indirect ambushing and incidental ambushing. Familiarizing yourself with these tactics and sub-tactics will be an important piece of your arsenal.

Because of the massive complexity of these large events, it can be very difficult to sift through the myriad intellectual property issues that stem from individuals and businesses unethically positioning themselves as sponsors. But the hard work to combat ambush marketing will pay off in the extra protection of your business and brand.

Originally published 21st July 2016

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.