Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Brands Risk Alienating Fans by Promoting Events They Don't Support?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Brands Risk Alienating Fans by Promoting Events They Don't Support?

Article excerpt

Nestle's World Cup-themed campaign for Kit Kat has raised the hackles of The Football Association and official partner Mars, throwing the spotlight on the risks and benefits of ambush marketing.


TIM CROW, Chief executive, Synergy

For 'always-on' football sponsors, the fact that they are not official World Cup partners is irrelevant. Using other football ties, they've earned credibility.

Take Nike. For fans, it is one of the world's most credible football brands. They see Nike everywhere in top-flight football as a major sponsor of teams and players. Against this background, try telling fans it is ambushing the World Cup with 'Write the future' because it 'doesn't support the event'.

Alienation becomes a factor when brands with no such credibility or credentials, or which aren't selling something useful to the World Cup experience, attempt to gatecrash the party with a tactical ambush campaign.

For some, this can work - such as Mars' 'Believe' around the 2006 World Cup. Four years on, Kit Kat's 'Fingers crossed' has repeated the trick - hence the irony of ambusher-turned-sponsor Mars reportedly considering litigation.

For most, it won't. Their campaigns may alienate fans, but more likely they'll just be ignored - and have wasted their time and money.


PAUL VAUGHAN, Business operations director, Rugby Football Union

Ambush marketing is often thought clever by the 'marketing community' and indeed, some campaigns can be very creative by trying to ride on the back of rights that another brand has bought into.

The difficulty for an ambush brand is that it does nothing for the sport or event that it is using and has little or no access to the key elements such as tickets and the more experiential parts delivered to the 'official' brand. It is also a very short-term tactic.

Official brands need to rise above it and bring their involvement to life through excellent creative work. O2's Priority ticketing campaign is a brilliant case in point, while MasterCard's work offering consumers the chance to become the 23rd member of the Barbarians team last week was a great example of things that ambush brands cannot do.

Fans are savvy and can see through campaigns without foundation. Their propensity to buy does greatly increase if the event they love is supported by a brand that does it properly.


BEN STEPHENS, Managing partner, Stephens Francis Whitson

Are consumers really sitting at home thinking 'Why is that brand running a promotion when it's not even an official sponsor? …

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