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Guerrilla marketing at the 2012 London Olympics

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I came across an interesting story last week about a clampdown on “ambush marketing” at the 2012 London Olympics which basically said that organisers want to ensure any unauthorised and unpaid for advertising at the event is stopped. But how workable is this in reality?

If, as the article says, open areas within a few hundred metres of the Olympic and Paralympic venues along with road race routes are covered by the regulations will this really put marketers off? Event goers will obviously be travelling to the venues so surely the space outside of the blocked out areas could be utilised to target those attending events. Roaming out of home media systems, mobile marketing and Wi-Fi technology provide a perfect means of reaching attendees on their way to and from the venues.

Another issue is where the cut off point for what qualifies as ambush marketing is; if five people attended an event all wearing a pair of Levi’s 501’s with the labels on the back showing would this count? What about 10, 50 or 100 people? Another example would be taxis with full brand livery… when dropping people off at events will they be stopped and refused entry to the specific zones? I could go on but I think you get where I’m coming from… there needs to be a clear guideline on what is and what isn’t allowed but it’s almost impossible to do so!

Ambush marketing is another (dirtier) term for guerrilla marketing, I even read a presentation recently at a seminar in which ambush marketing was termed as “parasitic marketing” – surely this is a harsh name for what is a credible and successful way of communicating brand messages!

When Dutch beer brand Bavaria sent 36 female Holland fans dressed in bright orange mini-dresses (which were part of a Bavaria promotion) into the Holland vs. Denmark 2010 World Cup match they made it until half time before being thrown out. The girls may have been removed but the story was aired on every news channel, overshadowed the main sponsor (Budweiser, incase you were wondering), was hailed as the new official beer of the World Cup, and jumped from having no measurable online traffic to being the 5th most visited beer website in the UK… job done.

What are your views on guerrilla marketing at the Olympics, Paralympics and other high profile events? Is it unfair to the sponsors who do pay for the privilege of advertising at these events or should the officials take a step back and admit that it’s impossible to control?

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