Online Ambush Marketing

Online ambush marketing has been around since the popular adoption of the Internet in the 1990s and takes many forms of “increasing the chances that you will see the wrong ads at the wrong time without your consent” Laudon & Traver (2010, p480). The term ambush marketing implies that it is seen as a negative way of impacting the use of the Internet of the user by adware and spyware in presenting unwanted ads, however those who choose to use such technologies to promote their wares would not do so unless it had a positive impact if some kind, usually financial. Such invasive methods as adware, spyware, popups and spam mailing are now in the mainstream and although not accepted, they are controlled by the use of software and its features to control such annoyances.

Invasive marketing techniques are therefore evolving to bypass the controlling technology via exploiting user ignorance (e.g. accepting an application from a provider that installs another hidden adware application) or loopholes in security and normally accepted procedures (e.g. spyware sites programming the “No” and the “X” buttons to mean “Yes, install application” on popups). This is the target of the constant development and update of software to protect users from such technological attempts at invasive marketing. As a result of this constant battle, many spyware companies have closed (such as in October 2008) however many more are emerging and changing to seek new ways of exploiting human and system weaknesses.

Online invasive marketing techniques are evolving and becoming more prevalent in other areas too, which I do not consider negative (although those on the receiving end may). I am especially interested in those techniques used by companies online to put their advertising in front of us when they are not supposed to be able to. The 2010 World Cup was an excellent example of how companies, who were not affiliated with the event, gained more marketing from the event than those who had paid huge sums to be officially affiliated and promoted. The companies in question were Nike and Adidas, where the latter was the official sponsor, and “Nike was mentioned in 30.2 percent of the English-language messages online tracked by Nielsen from May 7 to June 6, making it the most talked about company in relation to the World Cup. Adidas AG was second at 14.4 percent.” Klayman, B (2007).

Nike demonstrated by their combined use of traditional marketing, by recruiting top event-related celebrities in advertising campaigns, and social media, by posting on YouTube and other sites that they could create a buzz about Nike that the World Cup itself could not to for Adidas. Despite doing nothing illegal, as they did not mention being affiliated with the event itself, Nike gained more coverage from it than the official sponsor; Adidas. Given that the World Cup generates approximately $1.6 billion in sponsorship revenue, this must be a worrying sign for official sponsors of such events in the future. This isn’t to say that Nike did not spend a great deal of money on its ambush campaign, however you cannot help but feel sorry for Adidas in this situation as there is little than can be done to combat such coverage given the freedom of information on the Internet and the viral way in which that information can spread quickly and freely.


Klayman, B (2010) Reuters: Ambush marketing gives Nike leg up for World Cup [Online]. Available from (Accessed 12 September 2010).

Laudon & Traver (2010) E-Commerce: Business. Technology. Society. (6th Edition). Pearson Prentice Hall.