Ambush Marketing - Case Paper on Advertising Ethical Issue

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Ambush Marketing by Anheuser-Busch

Case Paper on Advertising Ethical Issue

Fall 2004

Shane L. Hackney

November 20, 2004

The NFL has more than 20 sponsors, who together pay more than $100 million in sponsorship fees.  Anheuser-Busch shared official NFL beer status with Miller up until last year when Coors signed a five-year pact that gives it an exclusive beer sponsorship.  As with some NFL sponsorships, Coors signed a complex pact that set out side deals on how much advertising it will run on networks televising league games.  Over the five years, Coors will pay an estimated $300 million in sponsorship fees, TV advertising and promotional marketing (Murphy, 2004).  This year the Super Bowl is in Houston, Texas and Coors has paid a large amount of money hopping to effectively market their product to gain revenues from its competition.  Anheuser-Busch will be holding Bud Bowl events in Houston during Super Bowl week.  Such events are ambush marketing but more specifically could be classified as a specific type of ambush marketing called guerrilla marketing.  After the many years Anheuser-Busch has been an official sponsor of the NFL, do they feel the marketing approach to this years up coming Super Bowl is fair?

        In most cases where sports sponsorships are involved there are numerous stakeholders.  I am going to focus on the stakeholders in regards to this specific event, the Super Bowl.  The primary stakeholders are the event itself (Super Bowl), the sponsoring companies (Coors), the event sponsor (NFL), the athletes and the fans (at the event – Super Bowl).  The indirect stakeholders are the agents of the athletes, he fans (listening or watching), and the ambushing companies (like Anheuser-Busch).  Finally the secondary stakeholders are the activist groups, society at large, the media, and other sports marketers.  They are represented graphically in Figure 1.  My focus is primarily going to be on the primary stakeholders including the indirect stakeholders.  The secondary stakeholders can play important roles in adding pressures to Anheuser-Busch’s situation, but not enough to describe their importance in this short paper.  

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The Event Sponsor (NFL)

        The NFL is one of the four primary stakeholders, but the most active in trying to prevent ambush marketing from occurring.  The NFL has a major interest in how their name and event is used in marketing efforts.  “The growth of commercial sponsorship has been perhaps the most striking development in marketing communications over the last two decades” (O’Sullivan and Murphy, 1998, p349).  The NFL sells the right to use their trademark and event to promote product.  How is the NFL affected by Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Bowl event plans during the Super Bowl?  The NFL has ...

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