Our guide to Ambush marketing

Ambush marketing: What do you need to know?

What is Ambush marketing?

Ambush Marketing can be defined as an attempt by a third party to associate itself directly or indirectly with an event or the event's participants without their permission, and so potentially depriving official sponsors of the commercial value resulting from the 'official' designation for the event. This is topical in light of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, but the principles outlined below apply to marketing activity for any large national or global events with official sponsors.

Ambush marketing example

FIFA, the international governing body of association football, defines ambush marketing as a “prohibited marketing activity” which is:

“Any attempt by any entity or individual to gain an unauthorised commercial association with the Competition and/or FIFA, or to exploit the goodwill and publicity generated by FIFA and/or the Competition in a manner not authorised by FIFA.”

What is FIFA’s position?

Intrusive Ambush Marketing has specifically been given a strong priority as part of FIFA’s brand protection. FIFA considers the practice as one that devalues the official sponsorship and takes advantage of the goodwill generated by tournaments.

What actions can FIFA take?

Claims may be brought by FIFA for any breaches of FIFA competition market or other intellectual property rights, or a claim for the tort of passing off.

What are FIFA’s UK registered trademarks and design rights?

Click here for a list of FIFA’s registered trademarks (the “Competition Marks”).

Why should you avoid Ambush Marketing?

We understand that Ambush Marketing presents a great opportunity to capitalise on the prospective financial success affiliated with a tournament or an event, with a successful promotion and brand awareness campaign leading to significant growth.

Where the practice becomes intrusive, there can be disastrous consequences, such as:

  • Possible infringement of intellectual property rights including copyright and trademarks.
  • Possible false or misleading association with an event which may constitute unlawful passing off (e.g., the UK) or unfair competition (e.g., France and Germany), or it can breach advertising regulations.
  • Breaching laws that have been introduced specifically to protect the event from Ambush Marketing which can have criminal implications.
  • Negative publicity in the media for the brand, company or the PR Group.

How do you avoid ambushing?

Do's

  • Plan campaigns around the World Cup and not the games.
  • Partner with football teams, players or properties provided that they don’t break FIFA rules e.g. by using World Cup logos.
  • Be cautious when using any player’s image in your campaign. Any image will require copyright clearance in the usual way, and the player’s permission should be sought. Note that it is likely that campaigns using competing players, coaches and officials etc. will not be permitted to run during the World Cup period (for CBIL, such World Cup period is from 1 September 2022 to 31 January 2023), however it is unlikely that this would apply to retired players who have featured in previous world cups.
  • Use general football-related or themed ads provided such ads do NOT use any of the Competition Marks. For example, the use of general football-related graphics/images would be acceptable.

Don'ts

  • Don’t use the Competition Marks or any other national team’s trademark, logos designs, images or footage in your campaigns.
  • Don’t launch any partnerships with or mentioning any FIFA football teams, players or their properties in a way that suggests you have a commercial relationship with them for the World Cup.
  • Don’t criticize the official sponsors in any way or parody any of their advertisements. They may have a case for defamation, breach of copyright or passing off.
  • Don’t use FIFA World Cup games tickets in promotional activities, such as prize draws.

Contacts

If you would like to know more about the legalities around Ambush Marketing, please get in touch with the team below:

Related