Ambush marketing is when one brand (the ambush marketer) uses another brand’s campaign, to raise awareness for their own brand, essentially “ambushing” their campaign by playing off of it and making it their own.
Humor is one of the most powerful tools in creating a memorable advertisement, and therefore Ambush ads often become more memorable than the original ad that was created.
Ambush marketing is common in event sponsorships, for example large scale sporting events, where large billboards, demonstrations, and signage are popular.
Think: piggybacking or hijacking.
Think: presenting an idea only to have someone else swoop in and add to it.
If you’re direct competitors, you’re going to feel one upped.
If you’re on the same team with a shared goal, it’s an exciting collaboration.
If you’re totally unrelated, you may feel flattered and happy to both be shining.
Ambush marketing is not necessarily meant to hurt the original brand or campaign, but can increase attention and awareness for both brands. With that said, a game of tit for tat can be played as well. In some cases ambush marketing is used by direct competitors in the same industry, and in other cases it is used by completely unrelated brands in different industries.
Ambush marketing campaigns are also an opportunity to think differently about your own brand, or show your consumers new sides of your brand – like being humorous, bold, feisty, or tongue-in-cheek. At YYC3, we view ambush marketing as a powerful way to have a potential off-brand moment, and really get creative with an advertising approach.
Of course, as ambush marketing is most often used in print marketing, like posters and billboards, it does have a disadvantage when compared to digital marketing and advertising, and that is the difficulty to calculate the return on investment (ROI). Unlike using digital ads, like Facebook, Instagram, and audience network, you don’t get a pretty dashboard with impressions, clicks, and conversions calculated by the minute at your fingertips.
Enough reading though… let’s SHOW YOU some examples!
CASE STUDY 1: APPLE + RONA
In 2009, Apple had a billboard posted up in Montreal to advertise the new iPod and the color selection. Rona had a clever response, and hung a billboard of the leftover paint dripping into their buckets. Rona used the attention Apple’s billboard was getting to advertise their paint recycling program, stating on the billboard, “we collect leftover paint”. Beautiful, and brilliant.
This is a good example of the “collaborative” style for ambush marketing used by brands that are not direct competitors.
CASE STUDY 2: SAMSUNG + APPLE
Now an example of a back and forth power struggle between two direct competitors, which each brand’s marketing team thinking critically and creatively for their success.
In 2011, the Samsung S II phone was released at the same time as Apple’s 4S. The main issue for Samsung was that they aren’t known for retail operations. Potential customers were always seeing Apple’s stores and the lineups every time there was a new product launched. So what did Samsung do? They setup a pop-up store beside the flagship Apple store in Sydney, Australia – AND sold their new phone for only $2.00 AUD. Within 3 days, the Samsung store succeeded in taking away from Apple’s fire by attracting a larger line than Apple’s.
CASE STUDY 3: VW + FIAT
Another clever move between direct competitors that we have to admire for it’s creativity. In 2012, Fiat took advantage of the new Google Maps imaging to advertise their newest model. How did they do it? They parked in the entranceway of Volkswagen HQ when Google Maps took it’s street view photos! This means that a Fiat is seen on Google Maps when searched… We love a bold statement!
CASE STUDY 4: AUDI + BMW
And then there was Audi, who jumped on an opportunity to poke fun at a BMW campaign that mentioned chess… they put up a billboard saying “Chess? No thanks we’d rather be driving” and “your move, BMW” to push a back and forth game of ambush marketing. BMW put up a larger billboard that said “Checkmate”. Audi put up an even larger billboard that said “Your pawn is no match for our king” and finally, BMW won by putting up a BLIMP above Audi’s ad saying “Game Over”. Ambush marketing often results in a visual competition like this, bigger and bigger, and more clever as each piece is played.
… when we talk about downsides of ambush marketing, can you imagine how expensive this would have been? Fun, but probably not in the budget for most local, small, and mid-sized businesses.
We specialize in small business marketing, especially for local Calgary businesses, in addition to national and international brands. We have clients in Europe that we’ve only met through the internet, we have clients across Canada we primarily phone and email with, and we have clients in Calgary that we meet with regularly, often filming videos and leading strategy sessions. Based on your budget we will provided our strongest recommendations to you about where to focus, and we thrive off having to get creative.
If you are interested in upping your marketing game to build your business, please contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation!