• Formalising ambush marketing as a marketing communications activity: a framework for planning, implementation and control

      Abbasi, Mohammad Waqar (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06)
      The UK is reporting record numbers of television and digital audiences of international sports broadcasts. Sponsoring these events represents highly lucrative and sought after opportunities for brands to reach these large audience numbers. However the immense costs of organising these events mean that the costs of such sponsorships are also immense. Therefore these sponsorship opportunities are accessible only to large multinational and global brands. Ambush marketing represents an alternative approach whereby brands can participate in marketing communication activities similar to sponsors without becoming official sponsors. Ambushers have to develop creative and imaginative campaigns to emulate sponsors without infringing on their rights. The aim of this study is to conceptualise the operational aspects of ambush marketing from the perspective of ambushers. It explores ambushing as an alternative strategic marketing communications activity to corporate sponsorship of sports. A systematic literature review has been conducted to discover the background and development of ambush marketing and ascertain the gap in research by comparing the extant research on ambush marketing to corporate sponsorship of sports. Where there is saturation in empirical consumer oriented research on brand recognition and recall, there is no research on the planning, development and implementation of ambush marketing or the day to day operations and strategies involved in ambushing sports. Furthermore research has so far not involved actual ambushers. In order to fulfil this gap, an exploratory, qualitative study has been designed. A single case study strategy has been applied with eight embedded units of analysis represented by eight actual ambushers of recent UK sports broadcasts. Participants in this unprecedented study are senior marketing and management officials of these companies. The study is interpretative with an ideographic philosophical stance allowing the exploration of UK ambush marketing within its own ethnographic context. A number of reliability and validity measures have been incorporated in the research design. The analysis of data in the form of interviews, documents and multimedia content found six main themes with a number of subthemes regarding the decision, planning and implementation of ambush marketing campaigns. These six themes are decision making, objective setting, developing ambush strategies, targeting ambush audiences, ambush expenditure and ambush outcomes. They represent sequential individual stages in the organisational process of ambush marketing found to be common in all participating companies. This study contributes to potential UK ambushers by providing a standardised approach to ambushing international sports broadcasts specifically from the industries represented by the participants, namely the betting industry and the food and beverage industry. Research also highlights the changing nature of ambush marketing from the traditional parasitic image to a contemporary image as a parallel, mutually beneficial activity. The benchmarking tool represented by the diagrammatic framework of the ambush marketing process will allow ambushers to chart their progress against a standardised approach while highlighting contemporary and innovative ideas and ways to avoid illegal and unethical practices. Lastly this study contributes to future research in ambush marketing by demonstrating that direct ambush marketer involvement is possible and making specific and valuable recommendations for further study.