In last week's Academy Awards, little did host Ellen DeGeneres
know that her funny bit about ordering pizzas from local chain
Big Mama's & Papa's would become so popular. When the pizza
delivery boy went live on the show,
The Coca-Cola Company
) logo inadvertently popped out from the signature red and yellow
boxes of Big Mama's and Papa's.
This turned out to be a huge ambush marketing bit for Coca-Cola,
whose brand logo became visible to an estimated 43.7 million
viewers on Oscar night. Soon after, the brand logo gained larger
visibility on social media platforms like
) when stars such as Jared Leto, Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt and
Harrison Ford tweeted and re-tweeted their pizza-eating selfies.
The Unlikely Winner
Coca-Cola had been a leading sponsor of Oscars for the last eight
years. However, it decided otherwise this year as sponsorship
fees skyrocketed to $1.8 million for a 30-second spot. The
coveted nonalcoholic beverage sponsor position was taken by its
). Pepsi debuted with a 60-second spot in the primetime slot to
showcase its 7.5-ounce mini Pepsi cans with an Oscar-winning line
: "Show me the money!"
But Coca-Cola got the free publicity and gained maximum coverage
and brand recall from an unplanned and impromptu stunt by the
host. In addition to the initial onscreen appearance, the
Coca-Cola logo was widely circulated across the digital media
that covered and analyzed the event.
And the List Continues
Another leading sponsor
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
) reportedly paid
The Walt Disney Company
)-owned ABC Network approximately $18 million for 5 minutes worth
of prime-time coverage in addition to unspecified consideration
for product placement throughout the broadcast. The consumer
electronics manufacturer also sponsored 10 tweets that featured
celebrity selfies from the green room and were tweeted via the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Twitter account.
Incidentally, the sponsors were once again taken aback as
DeGeneres was seen using her
)-manufactured iPhone for the tweets. The incident was perhaps
unintentional as she had earlier used her iPhone in her talk
shows and even made an iPhone app game to promote her shows.
The outright winner among the non-sponsors was probably Big
Mama's & Papa's, whose online orders surged by about
400%-500% in the after-hours of the free publicity. In addition
to online visitors and follow-up orders, this 20-year old pizza
chain gained huge brand awareness as media outlets from Australia
and Europe queued up for interviews. This has obviously made
), another leading Oscar sponsor, wonder as to how and why it
lost out despite having a worldwide appeal.
Seeking Greener Pastures
With FIFA World Cup 2014 scheduled to kick off on Jun 12 in
Brazil, marketers will have another opportunity to push their
brands. Four billion fans are expected to tune in on television
and a multitude of digital and social media channels. As
sponsorship fees are significantly high and restricted to a
selected few, ambush marketing is likely to be an avenue to draw
Pepsi is trying to payback Coca-Cola as it attempts to ambush its
arch-rival's multi-million pound sponsorship of the World Cup
with its own "superstar 2014 football squad." Soccer players
including Argentines Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero, Englishman
Jack Wilshere and Brazilian David Luiz will be part of its 'Live
for Now' campaign.In addition to Pepsi's global television
commercials, selected players will also be featured on a
limited-edition attractive packaging and point-of-sale
merchandise across the globe. This is likely to generate similar
buzz among fans as compared to event sponsor Coca-Cola without
paying the hefty sponsorship fees for the same.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland offers an
additional option for ambush marketers to cash in on the event
popularity. The forthcoming edition is expected to be one of the
most memorable Commonwealth Games ever with 6,500 athletes from
70 countries competing in 17 sports over 11 days from 23rd July
to 3rd August.
However, Glasgow organizers are implementing stricter measures to
protect sponsorship rights and have probably learned their
lessons from the London 2012 Summer Olympics when
) ambushed rival sponsor
) with a suave ad campaign. Even FIFA has upped its vigil against
ambush marketing activities through increased awareness, improved
surveillance for any infringement and enforcement of a fair play
ground by means of legal threats and sanctions.
The Escape Clause
No matter what the event organizers plan and ideate, the fact
remains that ambush marketing was, is, and perhaps will always be
a ploy to attract and exploit any global event without officially
tying up with it. These seemingly low-cost strategic campaigns
keep on innovating to escape through the loopholes of the law,
and continue to achieve their desired effects.
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