Italian legislators pass measures to crack down on the practice through administrative sanctions
The practice of ambush marketing
Ambush marketing is a technique through which a brand tries to associate itself, unduly and in an exploitative manner, with a media event of considerable size, in order to benefit from the visibility and popularity of the event.
Therefore, elements that are an indication of this practice are the absence of either an official or direct connection with the event itself, and not having incurred the costs necessary to become an official sponsor.
Bill n. 1635, art. 3
The bill of 13/01/2020 sets out regulations to crack down on the practice of ambush marketing in those circumstances in which a brand intentionally omits essential elements such as its trademark, its products, identifying symbols or logos, and highlights the following as ambush marketing activities:
- creating an indirect association between mark and event, with consequent confusion with the official sponsors;
- declaring to be an official sponsor of an event of which another mark is the official sponsor;
- increasing advertising activity in the period corresponding to the one during which the event takes place;
- promoting a mark with actions taken during the event or in places adjacent to it;
- selling products or services that make use of the club colors or of the logos of the sports clubs involved in the event.
The bill identifies all those events in which ambush marketing can occur. This allows to outline the corresponding administrative sanction system put in place to protect fair competition and the taxable persons involved in this practice, who can be identified as: the misled public, the official sponsors because of their financial outlay, and finally the organizers of the event because of the watering down of exploitation rights, in turn caused by a decrease in the commercial value of the image.
Finally, the assessment of compliance with the new provisions and the power to apply the corresponding sanctions – from 500,000 to 2,500,000 euros – have been delegated to the Italian Competition and Market Authority, whose authority in matters of unfair commercial practices, and misleading and comparative advertising is not replaced but actually integrated by the new mandate conferred by the bill.
Ambush marketing: a case study
2010 Football World Cup in South Africa, before the match between the Netherlands and Denmark, Bavaria – the producer of a Dutch beer – gave the Dutch fans a t-shirt with its brand name on it to be worn during the match, aware that the sponsor of the event was actually Budweiser, a North American beer.
In this way, they exploited the popularity of the official sponsor in order to gain undue advantage over the main sponsor during an event with a high media impact.