FIFA World Cup 2018 Ambush Marketing: ”Easier to circumvent official sponsor exclusivity”

As FIFA and the International Olympic Committee have become better at protecting the exclusivity of official sponsors, marketers have turned to more indirect forms of ambush, such as aligning promotions using imagery and themes to build a mental connection to an event without actually mentioning it.

The tactic is known as ambush marketing, in which companies use celebrities, themes or imagery to make audiences draw a connection to an event without having to pay an official fee to the organizers.

“If you can produce a World Cup campaign without being an official sponsor to FIFA, the championship in Russia or the national team, why should you buy expensive rights?” said Magnus Berglund, a sponsorship and brand consultant.

“Today, there are so many platforms to advertise on that it’s easier to circumvent official sponsor exclusivity”, Berglund said in a telephone interview.

More on Ambush Marketing during FIFA World Cup 2018

In stark opposition, former Paddy Power head of mischief, Ken Robertson, jokes that CMOs spending up to £100m on a top level football sponsorship “should be shot”.

Robertson, who recently founded his own agency called Tenth Man, says:

“I think it is an appalling waste of money. It is a wallpaper logo. People expect more from brands now than seeing it on the perimeter boards during a major event. They expect more sophisticated comms from brands. These CMOs show a lack of imagination and insecurity.”

For non-sponsors seeking to associate themselves with the FIFA World Cup, it’s critical to understand the rules of the road as so-called ”ambush marketing” laws vary.

Like host nations of the past, Russia has also passed a law to address such activities: Federal Law of June 7, 2013 No. 108-FZ, which confirms that the existing offense of ”unlawful trade” will be committed where any products or services are associated, directly or indirectly with FIFA or the World Cup without permission of FIFA.