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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 5, Number 1 (2005)

“Taking the Shirt Off Your Back” and Other Desperate Measures Used to Ambush the Ambushers in Sports and Entertainment

Tonya D. Butler

University of Memphis


To corporate sponsors, the fervor surrounding the international reach of major sporting and entertainment events translates into tremendous advertising opportunity. Companies often pay millions of dollars for the exclusive right to affiliate their brands with high-profile events, exposing their products to the throngs of fans in attendance and the many more watching on television. In these cases, the relationship between event organizers and corporate sponsors is both sanctioned and licensed, but a growing trend called ambush marketing is creating new and complicated problems for both parties. Ambush marketing, specifically ambush by intrusion, occurs when competing companies attempt to capitalize on a major event’s popularity and media exposure despite not being either sanctioned or licensed to do so. To sidestep legal formalities, these companies employ creative tactics such as strategically placing advertisements on buildings near a major event, or enlisting a large number of spectators to wear conspicuously branded clothing. Many event organizers have adapted their attendee policies in hopes of combating ambush marketing on this front, but with specialized private companies investing time and resources into circumventing these efforts, it seems as if ambush marketing will remain a problematic practice for some time.

Keywords: ambush marketing, corporate sponsorship, entertainment, sporting events, music industry, advertising

Butler, Tonya D. “‘Taking the Shirt Off Your Back’ and Other Desperate Measures Used to Ambush the Ambushers in Sports and Entertainment." Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 5, no. 1 (2005): 59-74. https://doi.org/10.25101/5.4

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