Ambush marketing which is now, for some companies, a strategic alternative to formal association through the purchase of legitimate sponsorship rights. It involves the promotion of a brand at various events without having to pay for any sponsorships fees. For instance, if a company A sponsors an event say, a soccer match and decides on giving out hats labeled ‘A-fan’ that promote the same company, if any spectator comes with a different hat labeled ‘B-fan’ that tends to promote another competing company B, then this is termed ambush marketing. Research statistics indicate that this ambush activity may damage sponsors’ events and even the interests of bodies governing the sports and individual sports people.
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This activity is often opportunistic in nature since its goals are to make public awareness at the least cost while at the same time gaining. Techniques are therefore employed by the organizers of such events to make use of their privileges wisely. These intruders use stealth in their action and at times can cause chaos when provoked.
Ambush marketing is also very prevalent in the internet whereby, some extraneous and unauthorized product promoters insert live links to their product promotion websites without the owner of the host site being aware. It is a common occurrence in situations where there is a commentary pane or where the visitors are allowed to leave queries and comments. The remedy to this is constant maintenance of the site and its contents to deactivate the direct links.
This issue has raised a lot of ethical concerns allover the corporate world. It is hard to imagine that having sacrificed a large amount of funds to sponsor an event in order to reach out to more consumers or prospective customers, then a rival ’hijacks’ both your dominance and mind space through backdoor means and outwits you instead.
A product promotion should be as successful as would be projected by the company undertaking the promotion but in most cases it does not go the same way.
If one may ask him/ herself; are there any legal measures that one can employ in case of such mischief? If so how much effective are they? Does the company stand to gain by following the legal procedures? Legal issues clearly arise, but the body of case law is as yet slight. Discussion often bases its argument on property rights, but can be as well problematic if a major event of popular cultural significance is concerned.
The four ethical perspectives which come in mind are, first, utilitarianism which demands that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the criterion of the virtue of action thus if company a spent lots of funds, it is ethical that it maximizes its use of the event. Second, is the duty-based ethics commonly called ‘deontological’ ethics which will make one ask himself, whom they owe a duty and what duty they owe. Next, is the stakeholder analysis and lastly, virtue ethics. These can provide a platform where our debate on whether ambush marketing is ethical or not.
However, as much as this business involvement is unfavorable to the company it makes it modify its competitive strategies and therefore attain the best standards in the market. It also influences the company’s level of promotion abilities and thus further experience in competence.
This essay has attempted to explain the meaning of ambush marketing and its ethical implication.
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