Despite proclamations that ambush marketing would be monitored closely, the Beijing Olympics may become another heavily ambushed top-tier sporting event. Ambush marketing is a tactic used by companies to associate their brands with an event or property to create the perception of an "official" relationship. Ambushing is a thorn in the sides of legitimate sponsors that pay rights fees for the "official sponsor" designation. The ambusher enjoys the marketing benefits without paying the price to be an official sponsor.
In the case of the Beijing Games, official sponsors such as Adidas, Budweiser, and China Mobile have been upstaged by competitors that either created a presence in Beijing away from the event venues or partnered with teams or athletes. While the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) has issued anti-ambushing rhetoric in the months leading up to the games, it appears that policing ambushers will not be a high priority over the next two weeks. It appears that the International Olympic Committee will need to be more proactive in calling on BOCOG to protect the investments official sponsors have made in the Beijing Olympics and beyond.
Some sponsors have spent an estimated $70-80 million on rights fees alone, plus millions more on advertising and other forms of communication about their Olympic involvement. If the IOC wants its sponsorships to retain the current level of value, steps must be taken to protect sponsors' significant investments. Ambush marketing on any level is distasteful and unethical; when it involves tens of millions of dollars it can be financially devastating, too.
Link: AdAge.com -"Let the Ambush Games Begin"