This Is What Ambush Marketing Looks Like

Back in 2010, soccer fans were gripped with anticipation over the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Also in that year, Valentine’s Day happened to fall on a match day. Puma seized on that to create a viral campaign that captured both the passion and the imagination of soccer fans.

The Puma Hardchorus was born, and fans could dedicate a love song, sung by what appear to be surprisingly talented soccer fans, and send it to their loved ones or share it with them on social media – demonstrating their love while still going to the game.

The most famous was this English one, with soccer fans singing the super-romantic “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, but they also created one in Italy using the song “Ti Amo” (“I love you”), and one in Korea around their national Children’s Day. (They all rock, but I’d back the English supporters in a fight.)


You could argue that this wasn’t really an ambush, but the way the soccer angle is used and the graphic depiction of Africa with the Puma logo is clearly aligning the brand with the anticipation of soccer fans, while staying well clear of doing anything illegal. FIFA sponsor, Adidas, probably would have seen that differently.

The reason I’m writing about this is because when major rightsholders have been rattling their swords and taking IP enforcement to the point of curtailing free speech among genuinely enthusiastic fans, any non-sponsor could mount an ambush strategy simply by thinking laterally, reflecting the passion of the fans better than the corresponding sponsor, and not diluting a great idea, which is exactly what Puma did with this campaign. And there wouldn’t be a damned thing the rightsholder could do about it.

By the same token, if the rightful sponsors could take their focus off the property themselves for a few minutes and have a good look at the larger experience – if they could recognise and value the fans, rather running the same “enter to win tickets” competition run by all the other sponsors – they could do interesting, effective activities like this. And if they did, their leverage program would be much more effective, while making ambush by a competitor nigh on impossible.

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