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Five great Olympics ambush marketing campaigns – StartupSmart


While, in Australia, businesses are creating headlines for blaming price increases on the carbon tax, their counterparts in the UK are having to run a different kind of gauntlet.


Using the Olympics to spruik your products, or “ambush marketing” as it has become known, has been zealously policed in the UK, with small businesses attempting to cash in on the Games risking a 20,000 pound ($29,000) fine.


Despite this, there have been several excellent examples on how to tap into the feel-good factor of the Olympics without falling foul of the commercial deals in place.


Australian start-ups can get in on the act too, by creating low-cost, tactical advertising stunts that grab the public’s attention during the Games.


Mike Halligan, founder of Engage Marketing, says: “The best marketing stunts are able to generate exposure far beyond their existing platform. Do something creative and noteworthy enough and people will talk about it.”


“When planning your marketing stunt, think about the extremes. The market is most likely to pick up on something that is extremely funny, extremely creative or extremely confronting.”


So which brands have managed to successfully ambush the Olympics? We’ve picked out five of the best.


Click on the tabs below for details on each of the marketing ambushes.



1. Beats Electronics



Those watching coverage of the swimming in the past few days will probably have seen athletes stride purposefully to their starting positions wearing hefty headphones.


The chances are that these distraction-reducing musical cans were made by Beats Electronics, which has turned ambush marketing into something of an art form.


The US business, founded by rapper Dr Dre and music executive Jimmy Iovine, instructed its staff to “bump” into Olympic athletes and give them a pair of free headphones. Some, given to British athletes, were even embossed with the Union Jack.


This isn’t the first time Beats has tried this approach – in 2008, the US basketball team was seen sporting its products in Beijing. The result? International TV exposure and appreciative Tweets from several well-followed athletes, all without the hefty price tag of a sponsorship.

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