Marcin Gębarowski, Ph.D., Department of Marketng, Faculty of Management, Rzeszow University of Technology, al. Powstańców Warszawy 12, 35-959 Rzeszów, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Actvites belonging to ambush marketng (parasite marketng) are more and more widely undertaken with regard to subsequent, huge sports events. Therefore, this artcle analyzes the scope of using this form of promoton in the period that preceded the 2012 European Football Championship. A reference has been made to Poland – a country which was a co-host of the championship. On the Polish market, owners of many brands performed actons that aimed at “stealing” image effects which should be achieved only by ofcial sponsors who support such huge tournament (which is considered to be one of the three greatest sports events all around the world – apart from the Summer Olympic Games and the Football World Cup). The artcle has two objectves. First, it describes a concept of promotng selected brands (based on relaton to the EURO 2012), identfying the scope of using ambush marketng forms in relaton to Polish consumers. Second, it presents results of research which illustrates differences in conceiving the brands of both ofcial sponsors and those – to whom one can atribute a name of ambushers.

Keywords: sports marketng, sponsoring, ambush marketng, UEFA, EURO 2012, Poland, football championship.


Due to the fact that sport is more and more frequently used in marketng actons taken by market enttes, numerous examples of using ambush marketng all over the world can be observed for many years. It is, however, stll a new phenomenon in countries of Central East Europe, where the level of sports marketng diverges signifcantly from the one on the developed markets (e.g. in the USA or Western Europe).Therefore, afer Poland had been awarded the rights to co-host the UEFA EURO in 2012, the analysed phenomenon atracted intense interest and its use increased on an unprecedented scale.

Poland and Ukraine – the co-hosts of the EURO 2012 – in the period that preceded the tournament, had to face many challenges. For the purpose of the championship, new football stadiums were constructed and the sports infrastructure was prepared for team base camps. Moreover, an offer of hotels was considerably enhanced, airports and railway statons were modernised, new roads and motorways were built. Many services were prepared for the organisaton of such a huge event. Also, a new dimension of marketng actvity appeared – one of the phenomena that occurred in that tme referred to a substantal increase of frequency of the actons which can be categorized as ambush marketng practces.

This artcle focuses on this form of marketng actvity, which is related to sponsoring and carried out in order to associate an individual brand with a huge sports event that is broadcast by the media. However, this form of promoton is used by enttes which are not ofcial sponsors. The aim of this artcle is, frst of all, to indicate the ideas which were used by ambushers in Poland in the period that preceded the EURO 2012, as well as to present the results of research which concerned the recognisability of the brands of ofcial sponsors of the European Football Championship.

The nature of ambush marketng and the areas of its analysis – literature review

Ambush marketng appeared for the frst tme in the literature at the end of the 1980’s – a few years afer frst instances of “stealing the image” of ofcial sponsors of huge sports events had occurred. One of the very frst defnitons of the analysed phenomenon was given by Sandler and Shani (1989), who claimed that “this tactc involves the efforts of an organizaton to associate itself indirectly with an event in an effort to reap the same benefts as an ofcial sponsor” (p. 9). At the same tme, a synonymous term – parasite marketng – began to be used as well. In the following years there were atempts to defne the analysed term more precisely – specifying it in both a narrow and a wide sense.

According to Schmitz (2005), in a narrow sense, ambush marketng refers to the direct efforts of one party to weaken or atack a compettor’s ofcial associaton with a sports organizaton acquired through the payment of sponsorship fees. In a broader sense, rather than such direct and intentonal misrepresentaton, ambush marketng refers to a company’s atempt to capitalize on the goodwill, reputaton, and popularity of a partcular event by creatng an associaton without the authorizaton or consent of the necessary partes. Some popular indirect ambush techniques include buying commercial tme prior to and during event broadcasts, sponsoring the broadcasts of events rather than directly sponsoring the event, sponsoring individual teams and athletes, and using sportng events tckets in consumer giveaways, sweepstakes, or contests (p. 205).

When defning the nature of ambush marketng, numerous examples were given, which presented its evoluton. At present, the analysed phenomenon refers to the majority of global sports events, however, initally, ambush marketng was related to the Olympic Games (Shani and Sandler, 1998, pp. 369-371; Burton and Chadwick, 2009, p. 305). It is believed that the frst instance of parasite marketng concerned the actons taken by an owner of the Kodak brand before the Summer Olympic Games held in Los Angeles in 1984 (Crow and Hoek, 2003). That was the frst tme when an ofcial sponsor ttle was awarded, preserving the trade exclusivity right.

Some authors extended the defniton of ambush marketng, referring the noton not only to sports events. Mazodier and Chandon (2012) maintained that ambush marketng can be defned as “the deliberate atempt, by a nonsponsor frm, to falsely suggest an associaton with an event, person or idea, for the purpose of deriving a commercial beneft from that associaton, without incurring the costs of the acquisiton of sponsorship rights in relaton to that event, person or idea” (p. 194). Sometmes, ambush marketng is also perceived as a manifestaton of guerrilla marketng. However, taking into account the dissertatons presented in this artcle, such expressions should be considered too broad.

The literature on the subject identfed manifestatons of parasite marketng many years ago. Meenaghan (1996) indicated fve common ambush strategies: sponsoring media coverage of an event, sponsoring a subcategory within an event and exploitng the investment aggressively, making a sponsorship-related contributon to the “Players’ Pool”, planning advertsing that coincides with the sponsored event, development of other imaginatve ambush strategies (pp. 106-107). A newer and more detailed typology of ambush marketng, which is adequate for the reality of the contemporary market, has been also elaborated. Chadwick and Burton (2011) identfed eleven types of ambush, ranging from the direct atack of one organizaton on a rival to the unintentonal associaton of a company with an event due to reputaton or past marketng efforts. They named the strategies as follows:

  • predatory ambushing, coatail ambushing, property infringement ambushing, sponsor self-ambushing, associatve ambushing, distractve ambushing, values ambushing, insurgent ambushing, parallel property ambushing, unintentonal ambushing, saturaton ambushing (pp. 715-716).

In the context of using practces which belong to ambush marketng it is worth mentoning that the ambushers’ actons are very ofen facilitated by ofcial sponsors themselves, who are not able to fully use the rights that they are enttled to, as well as they are incapable of emphasising the associaton of their brand with a partcular event. Apart from purchasing a licence, it is also important to plan communicaton actons in a well-thought-out manner and make sufcient fnancial outlays available to perform those actons (Gębarowski, 2009, p. 23). Some authors pointed out detailed methods which counteract the practces used by the ambushers – regarding both sponsors and organisers of events. Meenaghan (1994), for instance, proposed the following actons to be performed by ofcial sponsors: pressurizing event owners to protect their events, linking event and broadcast sponsorship, antcipatng potental compettve promotons, exploitng the sponsorship rights secured, resortng to legal acton (p. 84-85). Instructons in respect of reducing the phenomenon of ambush marketng can be found in many other publicatons (Payne, 1998; Shani and Sandler, 1998; Pit, Parent, Berthon and Steyn, 2010; Chase and Kurnit, 2010; Gombeski, Wray and Blair, 2011). However, regardless of the nature and the scope of taken actons, ambushers are becoming smarter. Compettors, determined to create a false associaton between an event and their product or brand, are now capable of doing so without infringing or breaching trademark or intellectual property laws (Farrelly, Quester and Greyser, 2005, p. 342).

Many authors paid a lot of atenton to legal aspects of the analysed phenomenon. For example, Townley, Harrington and Couchman (1998) concentrated on the practcal and legal preventon of parasite marketng (in the short term as well as the long term). Ellis, Scassa and Séguin (2011) examined the emerging trend of host countries using legislaton to protect the Olympic brand and control ambush marketng. Legal issues connected with the Olympic Games and other huge sports events were also described by Grady, McKelvey and Bernthal (2010) and Scassa (2011). Johnson (2011) and Louw (2012), on the other hand, in their extensive elaboratons, very precisely characterised legal regulatons – regarding parasite marketng – which are in force in the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as in selected countries from other contnents (among others, in the USA, China, Brazil, Australia).

In the literature available so far, the atenton has been devoted not only to legal determinants, but also to an ethical dimension of ambush marketng. Two of the frst authors who described that problem were O’Sullivan and Murphy (1998). They identfed and evaluated a range of possible actons to create more ethical commercial sponsorship.

An in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of ambush marketng in a different dimension – including psychological aspects – was carried out by Dalakas, Madrigal and Burton (2004). The authors focused on the motvaton and the ability to process a persuasive communicaton in the context of using parasite marketng. On the other hand, Pit et al. (2010), in their artcle, referred to cognitve mechanisms behind successful ambush marketng.

The fact that the phenomenon has been discussed in separate, coherent elaboratons proves that it has been gaining a considerable signifcance. For instance, in one of his latest ttles, Nufer (2013) identfed in detail a theoretc basis for ambush marketng and presented numerous examples of its practcal use. The author set forth the consequences of ambushers’ actvity in respect of different dimensions, as well as the methods of preventng their actons.

Ambush marketng is a phenomenon that has been observed for almost three decades. However, so far, there have been rather few elaboratons in the literature (contrary to other areas of marketng actvity), which mainly implied the nature of parasite marketng and its various forms. Also, ethical and legal dilemmas of the analysed marketng actvity were discussed. Furthermore, numerous examples of using ambush marketng were presented. There are, however, not many elaboratons that compare the knowledge, resultng from the actons taken with regard to the same sports events, of ofcial sponsors’ brands with ambushers’ brands.

Research methods

In order to determine to what extent the ofcial sponsors of the EURO 2012 and ambushers were associated with the European football championship, feld research was conducted. It was carried out between the 17th of May and the 1st of June 2012, which was the period when broadcastng (exposure of) the commercials related to the analysed sports event increased. A method of collectng empirical data was a direct survey conducted with reference to a sample including 220 citzens of Podkarpackie Province. 49.5% of respondents were women, and 50.5% – men. The sample did not involve random selecton (nonprobability sampling) and it was carried out using a method of typical case sampling.

A fundamental research-related problem referred to how to indicate the extent to which the enttes that use ambush marketng were associated with the European Football Championship – the EURO 2012. Also, researcher wanted to examine whether image results achieved by ambushers could be higher than the results of the promotng actons taken by the ofcial sponsors of the event. In this context, the following research hypotheses have been formed:

  • H1: brands employing ambush marketng may be more ofen recognized as sponsors of a football tournament than brands possessing the status of ofcial sponsors of the event.
  • H2: being the sponsor of natonal teams or football associatons may result in similar effects on a brand’s image as being the ofcial sponsor of the European Football Championship.
  • H3: television is a medium most commonly associated with footballrelated advertsements.

The results of the feld research are presented in the second part of this artcle. Moreover, the hypotheses were also verifed in this part.

The 2012 European Football Championship and its promoton potental

Fourteen natonal teams, which had earlier won the promoton through a qualifying competton, and the two host countries of the tournament – Poland and Ukraine, took part in the 2012 European Football Championship. The event was held for three weeks (from the 8th of June to the 1st of July), and 31 games were played in total. The tournament was organised on eight stadiums – four Polish (in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań, Wrocław) and four Ukrainian (in Kiev, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lviv). During the championship, the natonal teams were located at team base camps – 13 of them were accommodated in Poland, and only 3 in Ukraine. The EURO 2012 was begun with the opening game between Poland and Greece, which was held at the newly built Natonal Stadium in Warsaw. The fnal was played at the reconstructed Olympic Stadium in Kiev (Spain and Italy partcipated in the match).

The effects of organising such a huge event, like the EURO 2012, can be examined on many planes, including the measureable ones, such as, among other things, the development of infrastructure, the quantty of tckets sold for the games, numbers of incoming tourists afer the end of the tournament. Marketng results which are more difcult to specify and which have translated into an image of the brands that support a competton are also important; among them one can point out, for example, a change of image of the country which hosts an event or a level and nature of sports compettonrelated emotons. As far as the last aspect regarding sponsors and ambushers is concerned, the most intriguing issue is an interest in the event expressed by fans and journalists – both in the period that preceded the tournament and during the tme it was held. An audience rate of broadcast matches is relevant as well. With regard to that issue, it must be noted that during the EURO 2012 there were approx. 3.2 thousand journalists from all around the world in Poland, and the broadcast rights were purchased by 53 TV statons (the matches were broadcast across Europe and in 32 countries from other contnents). Over 652 thousand fans directly saw the EURO 2012 games that were played at four Polish stadiums. Nielsen Audience Measurement indicates that an average TV audience of all tournament matches in Poland equalled to 7.5 million viewers, which consttuted 51% of shares in the television market (htp:// mln-widzow-122-mln-zl-z-reklam.html). An important place for a promoton of brands that were ofcial partners of the tournament were – apart from the mass media – stadiums and so called fan zones, where the ofcial sponsors had exclusive rights to exhibit their graphic signs and sell products. The fan zones were constructed in the centres of largest cites, where crowds of fans gathered. Over 3 million people visited all Polish zones (in Warsaw, Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław and Cracow).

On the basis of these fgures one can consider the European Championship to be the event which, apart from the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup, is the most vulnerable to using ambush marketng. This is because such championship has characteristcs that increase the probability that the analysed phenomenon will happen – it is: a tournament, an internatonal and media event (broadcast in many countries), which is eagerly watched by spectators and viewers, and is spatally concentrated (takes place at stadiums) and organised cyclically (Waśkowski, 2009, p. 10).

Organisers of huge sports events atempt to protect sponsors’ rights and privileges. That was also the case with Union of European Football Associatons (UEFA) and the EURO 2012. The future co-hosts of the tournament – Poland and Ukraine – had to accept the obligatons set forth by the UEFA, which protect the interest of this organisaton in respect of both legal and fnancial aspects. The Polish government undertook, among other things, to protect signs and other intellectual property rights indicated by the UEFA, as well as to prevent unfair marketng practces and forbidden actons during the sales of tckets. Furthermore, the tournament organiser itself registered specifed trademarks – device (graphic) marks, word marks and combinaton marks. The prohibiton of using some signs and phrases was introduced – among other things, graphic mark of the championship or a name “EURO UEFA 2012” (they could be used only under licence agreements concluded with the UEFA). However, even though such regulatons were implemented, it was stll legally permited to use elements that had the associaton with football and the championship itself – that is, for example, expressions like “2012” and “championship”, natonal flags, symbols of a ball and stadiums, an image of fans.

Marketng actvites of ofcial sponsors of the European Football Championship and other market enttes’ actons related to ambush marketng

Ten brands were the ofcial sponsors of the tournament which was organised in 2012 in Poland and Ukraine: Adidas, Canon, Castrol, CocaCola, Contnental, Hyundai-Kia, Carlsberg, McDonald’s, Sharp, Orange. Apart from global partners, the EURO 2012 was supported also by domestc sponsors – in Poland, the following brands were involved: Bank Pekao SA, E. Wedel, MasterCard. Owners of the majority of those brands in the period that preceded the European Football Championship undertook intense and various promotonal actons in order to inform fans about the fact that they were assigned an ofcial sponsor status and to create associaton with this event. For example, Coca-Cola was the frst brand, which a few months before the championship placed advertsements in the media referring to football symbols. Castrol used commercials with a slogan “We can do it”, which was a local adaptaton of the global campaign “That calls for a Carlsberg!”. Another brand – Contnental – was advertsed by a short TV spot, which informed that it was a sponsor of the championship. Hyundai in its marketng actons presented a specially prepared – partcularly on the occasion of the championship – price offer for cars. Fans and present football players of the Polish natonal team appeared in the commercials of Orange, and Jerzy Dudek (a former Polish goalkeeper) became a Castrol’s ambassador, which was announced in commercials. A promotonal campaign for McDonald’s included a slogan “McDonald’s Player Escort”, which was given a considerable media support. Jakub Błaszczykowski – the Poland’s natonal team captain – was involved in the campaign. McDonald’s project was a contest for children, in which the main prize was an opportunity to walk together with players onto a pitch just before the tournament games. With regard to Adidas, in the media there frequently appeared the informaton that its product called “Tango 12” would be the ofcial ball of the EURO 2012. Many ofcial sponsors organised contests, in which everyone could win a tcket for the EURO 2012 matches – such as Castrol, Sharp and Orange. Moreover, products contained in packaging with the graphic sign of the championship were introduced into the Polish market – for example, Coca-Cola and Wedel.

The biggest and the most expensive EURO 2012-related marketng project, implemented by a non-sponsor, was a campaign enttled “the Fifh Stadium”. The promotonal campaign concerned Tyskie beer, and the idea behind it referred to support together and “create the biggest stadium all around the world”. During three months (from the beginning of April to the end of the championship), Polish Television (TVP) broadcast on its three channels 60 episodes of the series enttled “the Fifh Stadium”. The plot of each three-minutes-long episode referred directly to the football subject and the EURO 2012. It was set in a pub, where a logotype of beer was presented (product placement was applied). Many communicaton channels were used in the campaign (ATL, BTL, ambient media), including, among other things, TV commercials, in which famous footballers took part: Luis Figo, Marco van Basten and Zbigniew Boniek. The “Fifh Stadium” project was contnued also in 2013 when the Polish natonal team played further games.

Not only Tyskie, but also many other brands used advertsements (in all kinds of the media) in Poland to evoke associatons with the EURO 2012. Such examples include the TV commercials of certain brands, which were broadcast in that tme very ofen, for instance, Danio (the story was set on a pitch of a stadium), Tesco (a character from the commercial wore a scarf in the colours of the natonal team), Hoop Cola (a group of fans in front of the TV were shown). Also, advertsing slogans followed a sports conventon – for example, “We do not sponsor football stars! We do sponsor fans!” (Media Markt), “A masterly offer for the champions!” (Sthl). One of the ideas was to use a voice of a sports commentator – which was implemented by the owner of a chain of supermarkets Lidl into one of his television spots. It should be added that ambush marketng was manifested through the involvement of popular Poland natonal players by some non-sponsors. For instance, in promoton of Lay’s crisps and Pepsi drinks an image of Maciej Szczęsny was used, and Rober Lewandowski appeared in Gillete commercials.

Before the European Championship, many products in the colours of the natonal (red and white) flag and including football motfs were introduced to Polish shops. A universal image of a football (a white ball with black markings) was used the most frequently. Those signs were placed on the packaging of such brands as: Tymbark drinks, Wawel chocolate bars, Sokołów cold cuts, Grafenwalder beer. The signs mentoned above were very ofen complemented with slogans (for example, “Score prizes”) or product names introduced in the context of the championship (for example, “A fan’s sausage”, “A fan’s chocolate bar”). Hochland brand offered consumers processed cheese called “the red and white”. Even the products themselves adopted natonal colours – the owner of Tic-Tac brand launched red and white drops contained in single small boxes.

A separate group of brands, which were not ofcial sponsors of the EURO 2012 – but many people stll associated them with the tournament, were the brands that supported Polish natonal team under the agreements concluded before with the Polish Football Associaton (PZPN). The status of “Ofcial Polish Natonal Team Sponsor” was given then to: Nike (shoes, clothes and sports accessories), Biedronka (a chain of supermarkets), Warka (beer) and Cisowianka (mineral water). In promoton of these brands the signs reserved by the UEFA were not used, yet the rights obtained as a result of co-operaton with PZPN consttuted the basis for promoton – among other things, the logo of the Polish organisaton, as well as the image of players and natonal team kits were used (for example, Jakub Błaszczykowski acted in commercials of Biedronka). In the campaigns there were also slogans that referred to the tournament or football: “United in combat” (Nike), “We are all the natonal team” (Biedronka), “Ofcial mineral water of the Polish natonal team” (Cisowianka). Warka brand ran a campaign enttled “To the anthem!”. It encouraged fans to visit a specially created Internet website and record their own performance of the Polish anthem. Furthermore, there was a bus that travelled across the country and served as a mobile recording studio.

The actons described above relate to ambush marketng carried out in respect of the associaton dimension, which entails creatng associatons of a brand with a sports event using diversifed forms of marketng actvity. Such actons, which are based on more or less direct relaton to football, are difcult to eliminate by applying legal regulatons. Associaton ambush marketng was carried out both in the period that preceded the 2012 EURO and later on – during the championship. There is also a more uncommon form of the analysed phenomenon – aggressive ambush marketng, which is slightly different. It can occur during an event and entails exhibitng the brand that is not an ofcial sponsor within the area of a sports venue (it happens the most ofen through the actons performed by athletes or fans), as well as in the vicinity of it. Such conduct is usually subject to stringent restrictons that can be imposed by an organiser of the event. An example of this type of behaviour took place in 2012, when a Danish player, Nicklas Bendtner, right afer scoring a goal for his team in the game against Portugal in Lviv, lifed his jersey to expose the logo of an Irish bookmaker company – Paddy Power. For his conduct, he was punished by the UEFA with a 100,000 euro fne and suspended for one natonal team match (the owner of the brand that was promoted by the player undertook to pay the levied fne).

Awareness of the EURO 2012 ofcial sponsors’ brands and the enttes that use ambush marketng – an empirical perspectve

The partcipants of the research were asked to point out the brands which – in their opinion – were the ofcial sponsors of the EURO 2012 championship. However, the awareness of the sponsors was defned using the following two approaches – unprompted and prompted. Initally, the respondents were not suggested any answers and they were requested to indicate by themselves at most 13 sponsors (that was the exact number of the EURO 2012 supportng brands in Poland – 3 of them on the natonal level and 10 on the global one). Subsequently, with regard to the research that could help determine the prompted recall, the same respondents were given a list of 36 items to point out at most 13 sponsors. They could choose from those names of the brands whose commercials, presented in the media at that tme, based on the associatons with football.

Concerning the frst part of the research, the most frequently indicated brands were – Coca-Cola (62%) and Biedronka (58%). Other brands were chosen much more rarely, and they included such names as: Carlsberg (34.0%), McDonald’s (31.1%), Tyskie (26.4%), Warka (25.9%), Wedel (23.1%), Cisowianka (19.3%), Hyundai-Kia (13.7%), Orange (11.8%). The percentage of indicatons for the other brands did not exceed 10%. As far as the part relatng to unprompted recall of sponsors is concerned, Coca-Cola (85.6%) and Biedronka (70.4%) were also the most ofen repeated answers given by the respondents. On the other hand, a slightly lower level of indicatons was atained by: Carlsberg (67.6%) and McDonald’s (64.4%). Subsequent places were occupied by: Tyskie (51.4%), Warka (50.0%), Wedel (46.3%), Adidas (41.2%), MasterCard (38.9%), Cisowianka (38%), Hyundai-Kia (36.1%), Orange (35.6%). Regarding other brands which were also covered by the research, unprompted recall did not exceed 30% (Table 1).

Table 1. Brands indicated as the sponsors of the UEFA 2012 Football Championship
BrandUnprompted recall (N=212)*Prompted recall (N=220)BrandUnprompted recall (N=212)*Prompted recall (N=220)
Coca-Cola 62.3% 85.6% PGE 2.4% -
Biedronka 58.0% 70.4% Samsung 1.9% 8.3%
Carlsberg 34.0% 67.6% Lidl 1.4% -
McDonald’s 31.1% 64.4% Media Markt 1.4% 6.5%
Tyskie 26.4% 51.4% Nałęczowianka 1.4% -
Warka 25.9% 50.0% Toyota 1.4% -
Wedel 23,1% 46,3% Canon 1.4% 7.4%
Cisowianka 19.3% 38.0% Tymbark 1.4% 6.9%
Hyundai-Kia 13.7% 36.1% MasterCard 0.9% 38.9%
Orange 11.8% 35.6% Orlen - 24.1%
Adidas 9.9% 41.2% Gillete 0.5% 18.5%
Cappy 7.5% - T-Mobile - 13.4%
Sharp 7.5% 21.3% Contnental - 12.0%
Castrol 7.1% 19.4% Red Bull 0.5% 11.1%
Lech 5.7% - BZ WBK - 9.3%
Heineken 4.2% 23.6% Tesco - 6.9%
Pepsi 3.8% 17.1% Hoop Cola 0.5% 6.0%
Lay’s 3.3% 26.4% Kinder - 4.2%
Nike 2.4% - Real 0.5% 3.2%
Plus 2.4% 8.3% PLL LOT - 2.3%
DB Schenker 2.4% - Nivea - 0.9%
  2.4% 2.4% Hochland - 0.0%
* N is a number other than 220 due to the fact that 8 respondents did not point out names of the sponsors.

Research partcipants were also inquired about which mass media presented commercials that referred to football most ofen. The most frequent response concerned television (94.5%) and the Internet (73.4%). Other responses referred to: the radio (40.8%), billboards next to roads (28.9%), everyday newspapers (16.5%), magazines (12.4%), the cinema (3.7%).

The research also contained references to packaging − treated as a tool applied to evoke the associatons with the European Football Championship. The vast majority – 86.8% – of respondents notced football motfs on the packaging of diversifed products. The brand which in this aspect was the most frequently indicated by the people under the research was Coca-Cola – 38.7% of respondents admited that they saw the symbols referring to the EURO 2012 on labels of these drinks. Football-related elements were also notced on the packaging of products offered by the following brands: Wedel (22.5%), Tyskie (17.8%), Cisowianka (9.9%), Warka (9.9%), Carlsberg (7.9%), Biedronka (7.9%), Pepsi (7.3%), Lay’s (5.8%), McDonald’s (3.7%).

Pursuant to the UEFA requirements, using the ofcial championship logo in marketng actons was permissible only for the ofcial sponsors of the event**. Therefore it was reasonable to examine to what extent the symbol of the EURO 2012 was recognisable. The majority of inquired people (64.5%) claimed that they knew what the logo of the European Football Championship, organised in Poland and Ukraine, looked like. However, merely 46.8% of the sample under research were able to correctly describe the graphic sign of the tournament. The remaining 17.7% of the respondents defned it inappropriately (for instance, some of them mistook the championship logo for ofcial mascots – the creatures called Slavek and Slavko). Every third person (35.5%) revealed that they did not pay atenton to what the EURO 2012 symbol looked like.

Discussion and conclusion

The results show that using ambush marketng practces in a well-thoughtout manner can be effectve and produce notable image outcomes leading to a situaton when a partcular brand will be strongly associated with a popular sports event. That is proved, frst of all, by the case of the brands of beer – Tyskie and Warka. Their owners – Kompania Piwowarska and Grupa Żywiec, respectvely – used original and large-scale promotng actons. As a result, Tyskie and Warka were indicated by half of the respondents as ofcial sponsors of the EURO 2012 (in the part which defned the prompted recall). Slightly higher percentage of indicatons was atained by the real partner of this event – Carlsberg. One can therefore notce that the brands which use the actons considered as parasite marketng for the purpose of their promoton can be more recognisable than a brand of an ofcial sponsor (which confrms the frst hypothesis).

The partcipants of the conducted survey very frequently mentoned such brands as Biedronka and Cisowianka, which obtained the status of the Polish natonal team sponsors (they were not, however, the ofcial sponsors of the tournament). Their intense promotng actons, which were based on the opportunites resultng from the fact that they were partners of the football associaton – including a utlisaton of the PZPN logo and images of players, led to creatng strong associatons with the EURO 2012 (hence, the second research hypothesis is confrmed). Biedronka, a chain of supermarkets, was the second most popular indicaton – following Coca-Cola, and before all other ofcial sponsors of the European Football Championship.

Basing on the results of the analysis, another conclusion can be reached – confrming the third hypothesis and indicatng that the main medium used to form a relaton between a brand and sports event, was television. However, a signifcant role in this respect was played by a marketng actvity performed on the Internet. Moreover, the packaging of products consttuted a relevant means of creatng associatons with the tournament.

Furthermore, the research revealed that in the period that preceded a huge sports event, in a mass of many advertsements referring to football motfs, it was difcult to be a recipient and distnguish the ambushers’ advertsements from those advertsements which included an ofcial event sign and informaton indicatng that a partcular brand is an ofcial sponsor. In this context, it is worth notcing that merely less than a half of the research partcipants were able to correctly describe a graphic sign of the tournament organised in Poland and Ukraine.

The analysis of marketng actons taken in connecton with the European Championship allowed to indicate main manifestatons of ambush marketng, used in Poland in 2012. Ambushers’ actvity concerned, frst of all, performance of the following actons in order to promote their brands:

  • using the symbols referring to the most popular sports discipline (it manifested through placing in commercials or on packaging of products, among other things, an image of: football, goals, pitches, stadiums, etc.),
  • using an arrangement of white and red colours, which were very common during the championship in the public area and created the associaton with the natonal flag,
  • referring to fans, who were deeply emotonally engaged in experiencing the championship (commercials based on the scenes which presented people who supported the natonal team).

It must be mentoned that the research, whose results have been presented in this artcle, was limited in its nature. However, it can be considered as an introducton to large-scale examinatons that will be carried out in the periods preceding future huge sports events. With regard to the subsequent examinatons, one should make an atempt to specify to what extent the actons perceived as parasite marketng influence a level of product sales achieved by ambushers. It is also vital to identfy the factors that determine the effectveness of marketng based on “stealing associatons”, and, what is more relevant, to decide whether the analysed form of marketng actvity – due to ethical and legal reasons – should be considered a permissible technique of fghtng for a customer in the extremely compettve contemporary economy.


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