Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Sign of the times

Posted by John Beech on April 19, 2010

Did you know that “PepsiCo has tied up with Microsoft Advertising to launch a digital campaign“, and furthermore that this is part of Pepsi’s ambush marketing strategy?  No?  Well, it’s all reported here, and it’s to do with the World Cup!

If ambush marketing is a term you are not familiar with, my colleagues Nick Burton and Simon Chadwick define it thus: “Ambush marketing is a form of strategic marketing which is designed to capitalize upon the awareness, attention, goodwill, and other benefits, generated by having an association with an event or property, without an official or direct connection to that event or property” (1).  To be blunt, it means using an event as a vehicle for your advertising without going through the tiresome business of signing up (and thus paying) to be an official sponsor.  One of the most famous examples dates from the World Cup in 2006, when Dutch fans wearing lederhosen with the logo of Bavaria beer were forced to take them off if they wanted to enter the stadium, Budweiser being the official beer sponsor of the vent (2).

Ambush marketing is not something new then.  It has become part of the post-commercialised football scene.  What does surprise me though is the scale of ‘legitimacy’ it has now achieved – that a joint ambush marketing strategy is so openly discussed, without any reference to its (un)ethical dimension.  It’s acceptance as part of the football business does little to restore any remaining vestige of the increasingly inappropriately-called beautiful game.


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