Ambush Marketing of Sports Mega-Events

  • Andre M. Louw
Part of the ASSER International Sports Law Series book series (ASSER)


This chapter will provide, as background for the later chapters, a largely descriptive overview of the definitions and practices of ambush marketing and of the legal bases for protection available to sports organisations and their commercial partners against ambushing. The final section will set the scene for critical analysis of the legitimacy of anti-ambushing laws as undertaken in the later chapters, by briefly but seriously interrogating the question of whether all forms of ‘ambushing’, as marketing efforts by non-sponsors around events is often characterised, are in fact legally and ethically ‘wrong’. This is a crucially important exercise, as the chapters that follow will examine criticisms that have been expressed in recent years regarding the sometimes draconian and excessive protections that international sports organisations have been able to impose on the governments of host nations for major events, in furthering or maintaining the commercial interests of such organisations and of their commercial partners.


Trade Mark Olympic Game Event Organiser National Collegiate Athletic Association National Hockey League 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


All internet-based sources referred to, were last visited in or before December 2011.

  1. Amis J, Slack T, Berrett T (1999) Sport sponsorship as distinctive competence. Eur J Mark 33(3/4):250–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bacalao-Fleury CE (2011) Brazil’s Olympic trials: an overview of the intellectual property challenges posed by the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games. Univ Ill J Law Technol Policy 1:191Google Scholar
  3. Barney RK, Wenn SR, Martyn SG (2004) Selling the five rings. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake CityGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker D (2006) The essential legal guide to events. Dynamic Publishing Ltd, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  5. Bischoff JB, Curry JP, Berzins I (2005) Dispatch from the trademark wars: ambush marketing and the arena of sports. Metrop Corp Couns Newslett 19. (February 2005)Google Scholar
  6. Burton, N, Chadwick, S (2009) A typology of ambush marketing: the methods and strategies of ambushing in sport. Centre for the International Business of Sport Working Paper Series No. 10Google Scholar
  7. Cloete R et al (2005) Introduction to sports law in South Africa. LexisNexis Butterworths, DurbanGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooper Dreyfuss R (1990) Expressive genericity: trademarks as language in the Pepsi generation. Notre Dame Law Rev 65:397Google Scholar
  9. Cooper Dreyfuss R (1996) We are symbols and inhabit symbols, so should we be paying rent? Deconstructing the Lanham Act and rights of publicity. Columbia-VLA J Law Arts 20:123Google Scholar
  10. Corbett S, Van Roy Y (2010) Events management in New Zealand: one law to rule them all? J Bus Law 4:338–362Google Scholar
  11. Crompton JL (2004) Sponsorship ambushing in sport. Manag Leis 9:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crow D, Hoek J (2003) Ambush marketing: a critical review and some practical advice. Mark Bull 14:1–14Google Scholar
  13. Drake S, Wells C (2008) The complete idiot’s guide to guerrilla marketing. Alpha Books, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  14. Duthie M (2003) It’s just not cricket: ambushing the ambushers in South Africa. Freehills Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys. (June 2004)Google Scholar
  15. Ellis D, Scassa T, Seguin B (2011) Framing ambush marketing as a legal issue: an Olympic perspective. Sport Manag Rev 14(3):297–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) (2010) 2010 FIFA world cup South Africa FIFA Public information sheet. (a guide to FIFA’s Official Marks)Google Scholar
  17. Frontier Economics Pty Ltd, Melbourne (2007) Ambush marketing legislation review, a report prepared for IP Australia and the Australian Government’s Department of Communications, Information Technology and the ArtsGoogle Scholar
  18. Gannon N (2010) Foul play in sports branding—the marketer’s perspective. World Trademark Rev 27:67Google Scholar
  19. Grady J, McKelvey S, Bernthal MJ (2010) From Beijing 2008 to London 2012: examining event-specific Olympic legislation vis à vis the rights and interests of stakeholders. J Spons 3(2):144–156Google Scholar
  20. Heshka J (2010) Rules and rogues. Marketing 37Google Scholar
  21. Hewitt I (2005) Commercialisation of major sports events: does the law help or hinder the event organiser? Sport Law J 13(1):32–39Google Scholar
  22. Johnson P (2007) Ambush marketing: a practical guide to protecting the brand of a sporting event. Sweet and Maxwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Johnson P (2008) Look out! It’s an ambush. Int Sports Law Rev 2/3:24–29Google Scholar
  24. Kelbrick R (2008) Ambush marketing and the protection of the trade marks of international sports organizations—a comparative view. CILSA 41(1):24–28Google Scholar
  25. Kobel P (2007) International report on question B: ambush marketing too smart to be good? Should certain ambush marketing practices be declared illegal and if yes, which ones and under what conditions? International Report to the International League of Competition Law, Catania Congress 2007Google Scholar
  26. Lewis A, Taylor J (2003) Sport: law and practice. Cavendish Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Longdin L (2009) Public law solutions to private law problems: major event regulation subverts IP’s internal balance. J Intell Prop Law Pract 4(10):726–742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McKelvey SM (2006) Coca-Cola vs. PepsiCo: a “Super” battleground for the cola wars? Sports Mark Q 15(2):114–123Google Scholar
  29. McKelvey S, Grady J (2008) Sponsorship program protection strategies for special sport events: are event organizers outmaneuvering ambush marketers? J Sport Manag 22:550–586Google Scholar
  30. Meenaghan T (1996) Ambush marketing—a threat to corporate sponsorship. Sloan Manag Rev 38:103–113Google Scholar
  31. Mendes PPM (2010) Brazil moves fast to fight ambush marketing. World Intell Prop Rev 18–21. (Jan/Feb 2010)Google Scholar
  32. Payne M (1998) Ambush marketing: the undeserved advantage. Psychol Mark 15(4):323–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Payne M (2006) Olympic turnaround. Praeger Publishers, WestportGoogle Scholar
  34. Pound RW (2006) Inside the Olympics. Wiley, MontrealGoogle Scholar
  35. Scaria AG (2008) Ambush marketing: game within a game. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Scassa T (2011) Ambush marketing and the right of association: clamping down on references to that big event with the all the athletes in a couple of years. J Sport Manag 25:354–370Google Scholar
  37. Scherer J, Sam M, Batty R (2005) Sporting sign wars: advertising and the contested terrain of sporting events and venues. Int J Sport Manag Mark 1(1–2):17–36Google Scholar
  38. Schmitz JJ (2005) Ambush marketing: the off-field competition at the Olympic games. Northwest J Technol Intell Prop 3:203Google Scholar
  39. Schwab F (2006) FIFA’s trademark tactics. World Trademark Rev 3:6. (Sept/Oct 2006) Google Scholar
  40. Seguin B, O’Reilly NJ (2008) The Olympic brand, ambush marketing and clutter. Int J Sport Manag Mark 4(1):62–84Google Scholar
  41. Seth R (2010) Ambush marketing—need for legislation in India. J Intell Prop Rights 15:455–463Google Scholar
  42. Shank M (1999) Sports marketing: a strategic perspective. Prentice Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Storey S (2010) Pilfering, piracy and prevention: developments in combating ambush marketing. Sport Law J 18(1):40–54Google Scholar
  44. Townley S, Harrington D, Couchman N (1998) The legal and practical prevention of ambush marketing in sports. Psychol Mark 15(4):333–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tripodi JA, Sutherland S (2000) Ambush marketing—“An Olympic event”. J Brand Manag 7(6):412–422Google Scholar
  46. Vassallo E, Blemaster K, Werner P (2005) An international look at ambush marketing. Trademark Rep 95:1338Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Howard College CampusUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations