With Nike's huge billboards dotting the Atlanta landscape, flags picked up outside the stadium being waved in the stands, and "Nike Village" constructed next to the official "Athletes' Village" at the 1996 Olympics, it would have been easy to assume the company was an official sponsor. In reality, Nike was just engaging in ambush marketing. Ambush marketing is advertising which intentionally misleads consumers to believe a company is more connected with an event than it actually is.
Predatory ambushing refers to marketing that attacks a competitor's sponsorship of an event, athlete, or organization, while simultaneously confusing consumers over which company is the official sponsor. The campaign employed by AMEX against VISA during the 1994 winter games is an example of predatory ambushing. Official sponsor VISA was outraged when AMEX aired a commercial with the tagline, "So if you're traveling to Norway, you'll need a passport, but you don't need a Visa."
Coattail ambushing involves gaining exposure through sponsoring an individual or related event without being an official sponsor of the larger event.Despite Reebok being an official sponsor of the Atlanta Olympic Games, a rival competitor ended up snatching headlines for the event. Athlete Lindford Christie wore a pair of contact lenses to a press conference that contained the iconic Puma logo in the pupil. The brand was well covered in the news the following day.
Property or trademark infringement intentionally misuses or violates the trademark of an advertiser for the purpose of diluting the marketing space or confusing consumers. The organizers of the London Olympic Games employed hundreds of officers devoted to policing the games' brand throughout the city. Local businesses could be fined for including words like "gold," "bronze," or "summer" in their advertising, as the London Olympics believed this was an infringement on the trademark of its brand.
Self-ambushing is the practice of breaching the limits of a company's sponsorship parameters in a way that infringes on another sponsor's marketing or advertising. For example, in 2008 the official sponsor of the UEFA European Championships, Carlsberg, gave out headbands and t-shirts with the Carlsberg logo at the tournament. These forms of advertising were not included in its sponsorship agreement, and violated the sponsorship of another company that was permitted to hand out these items.