A marketing trap or ambush related to taking advantage of someone else’s money. It is a very popular phenomenon when specific companies fund particular events. While being a sponsor for a world renowned event can generate a lot of advertising value, it does cost a lot of money. Most sponsors end up wasting money anyway. There are plenty of them, so they are all mentioned altogether. Therefore, no one can really identify them in the crowd.
What a perfect marketing trap looks like
In 1998, the World Cup was hosted by France. Nike and Adidas were obviously some of the toughest competitors. According to a PR specialist, the main advantage of football is the fact that it attracts a global audience. Therefore, big names like Nike and Adidas had an obvious interest in such things.
FIFA – the World Cup organizer – allows one sponsor from specific commercial categories only. Therefore, Nike and Adidas could not sponsor at the same time. Adidas was the happy winner of the bid. It has managed to become the main sponsor of the event, even if some of the teams were actually sponsored by Nike. The sponsorship tax was estimated at 20 billion pounds, yet Nike has managed to come up with a marketing trap that was a lot less expensive.
Nike has established a small football village somewhere between the beautiful buildings of La Défense, in the northern part of Paris. Everyone was free to step in there. The company has organized a series of fun events for children and teenagers. Nike did not have the right to use the official logo of the World Cup, not to mention about using the event name. With all these, most visitors did not really know about these things. Even if they did, they clearly did not care. The company has even organized a small televised tournament by giving youngsters the possibility to play against Nigeria’s youth national team. Nike has spent 4.2 million dollars only. That was about 20% of what Adidas spent, yet it had similar effects.
From my point of view, ambushing the Adidas efforts did not just give Nike an undeserved advantage, but it has also attenuated the impact planned by the Adidas public relations team. Adidas did not have too much time to come up with a counter attack, but it is quite hard to tell what it could do to prevent the Nike campaign.
How to organize a marketing trap
Marketing traps are dirty, yet extremely efficient if they are done by the book. So what do you need to look for?
- Find an event that has a direct connection with your product.
- Perform your activities as close as possible to the main event location.
- Do not make any official or direct statements that can associate your business with the event. Instead, let your actions speak for themselves.
- Expect a negative reaction from your competition.