Unmasking the ambushers: Conceptual framework and empirical evidence

Marc Mazodier, Hong Kong Baptist University
Pascale Marc
Jean-Louis Chandon


Purpose – Sport events organizers have recently undertaken to disclose to the general public instances where firms have conspired to ambush the official sponsors. In doing so, they have sought to sensitise audiences to sponsors’ valuable contribution. However, what is the effect of such disclosure on ambush marketers’ brands? This study aims to answer this question, using an experimental approach.

Design/methodology/approach – Two successive experiments were conducted. The first study used a student sample (n ¼ 120) and a fictitious brand. The second study used a before-and-after experiment with control groups (n ¼ 480), using four real brands and print disclosure articles. Data was collected from six French metropolitan areas and analysed using Repeated Measure ANOVA and MANOVA.

Findings – Ambush marketing disclosure is associated with lower attitudes towards the ambusher’s brand. Two variables moderate this effect: involvement in the event and attitude towards sponsorship, both of which worsen the negative influence of ambush disclosure on audiences’ attitudes.

Research limitations/implications – While the empirical work reflects one national context and one specific sport event, these findings are the first to empirically support the notion that disclosure of ambush practices adversely impacts ambushers’ brand.

Practical implications – These results offer official sponsors and event organisers an effective alternative strategy to legal protection, with demonstrated effects on the core target audience of the event.

Originality/value – The literature has alluded to possible perverse effects of ambush marketing. This study is the first to draw an analogy with corrective advertising to test and demonstrate the impact of ambush disclosure on ambushers’ brands