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  • Conceptualizing Ambush Marketing: Developing a Typology of Ambush Strategy and Exploring the Managerial Implications for Sport Sponsors Burton, N. Submitted version deposited in CURVE January 2014 Original citation: Burton, N. (2012) Conceptualizing Ambush Marketing: Developing a Typology of Ambush Strategy and Exploring the Managerial Implications for Sport Sponsors Unpublished PhD Thesis. Coventry: Coventry University. Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders. Note: A number of advertising images have been removed from the online version of the thesis due to third party copyright. The full unabridged version of the thesis can be viewed at the Lanchester Library, Coventry University

    CURVE is the Institutional Repository for Coventry University

  • Conceptualizing Ambush Marketing:

    Developing a Typology of Ambush Strategy

    and Exploring the Managerial Implications

    for Sport Sponsors

    Nicholas I.F. Burton

    December 2011

    A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the University‟s requirements

    for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    Coventry University

    Copyright © Nicholas Burton, 2012

    aa0682 Typewritten Text

    aa0682 Typewritten Text

  • i


    As sport sponsorship has grown in importance and sophistication over the past three

    decades, so too have the efforts made by un-associated brands to capitalize on the

    financial benefits and media value provided by sport. By offering would-be sponsors an

    alternative means of associating with an event without the substantial expense of

    securing an official partnership, ambush marketing has become a major threat to the

    investments made by official sponsors, cluttering the marketing environment

    surrounding sponsorship and challenging sponsors for consumer attention and

    awareness. Unfortunately, our understanding of ambushing and its impact on the

    management of sponsorship programmes has been limited by the predominantly

    atheoretical, outdated perspective of ambush marketing espoused by commercial rights

    holders and event organizers.

    This study presents a conceptual examination of ambush marketing, providing a

    theoretical investigation of the nature, role, strategy and impact of ambush marketing

    and a renewed perspective of ambush marketing as a form of marketing

    communications. Contemporary ambush marketing represents a strategic alternative to

    official sponsorship, which offers a brand access to consumer attention and awareness

    by creating an affiliation, whether implicit or explicit, with an event or property. This

    previously unexplored complexity and diversity has informed the construction and

    development of a typology of ambush strategy which contemporizes past ambush

    marketing research and affords new insight into the role and evolution of ambush

    marketing, and its impact on sport sponsorship management. The development of a

    theoretical conceptualization of ambush marketing represents an integral step in the

    advancement of the academic study of ambushing, and affords the opportunity to better

    understand the impact of ambushing on sponsorship and to further explore the nature of

    ambush marketing.

  • ii


    This study was conducted with the generous support of Coventry University and the

    Faculty of Business, Environment and Society. It is with thanks to the Department

    of Sport and Event Management, the Department of Strategy and Applied Management,

    and the staff of Coventry University Business School that this dissertation has been


    This research owes its inspiration and direction to my friend, mentor, and supervisor,

    Professor Simon Chadwick. I cannot thank Simon enough for the help and support he

    has provided over the years, and the opportunities he‟s offered me as a researcher, as an

    academic, and as a colleague. I am eternally grateful for his efforts in keeping this

    research on course, and for keeping me motivated and focused throughout.

    I have also had the pleasure of working with the Centre for the International Business of

    Sport throughout this undertaking, and am forever indebted to the CIBS family for their

    help. To Dr. Anna Semens, Ian Webster, Neville Clements, Samantha Gorse, and

    Dr. John Beech – thank you.

    I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the many friends and colleagues who

    have supported me throughout this project and provided a much-needed and welcomed

    distraction from the daily grind. I also owe special thanks to Helen Rowe, for her

    continued assistance and kindness in completing this work.

    Finally, this dissertation is dedicated to my sister, Sam, and parents, Joan and Bob:

    without your love, support, patience and encouragement, this work would not have been


    Thank you.

  • iii

    Table of Contents

    Abstract… i

    Acknowledgements… ii

    List of Tables… v

    List of Figures… vi

    Chapter I: Introduction… 1

    1.1 – An Introduction to Ambush Marketing… 1

    1.2 – Research Aims & Objectives… 7

    1.3 – Research Methodology… 9

    1.4 – Analysis & Discussion… 13

    1.5 – Publication… 16

    1.6 – Breakdown of the Study… 18

    1.7 – Conclusions… 19

    Chapter II: Theoretical Framework… 21

    2.1 – Ambush Marketing and Sport Sponsorship: An Introduction… 21

    2.1.1 – The Sponsorship Industry… 22

    2.1.2 – The Evolution of Sponsorship… 24

    2.2 – The State of Sponsorship Research… 27

    2.2.1 – Sponsorship and Sport Marketing Communications… 27

    2.2.2 – Defining Sponsorship… 30

    2.2.3 – Re-visiting Sponsorship Research… 33

    2.2.4 – Progressing Sponsorship Research… 39

    2.3 – Ambush Marketing… 41

    2.3.1 – Introducing Ambush Marketing… 42

    2.3.2 – The Threat Posed to Sport Sponsorship… 47

    2.3.3 – Protecting Against Ambush Marketing… 52

    2.4 – Theoretical Conclusions… 62

    Chapter III: Research Methods… 65

    3.1 – Research Philosophy and Design… 65

    3.2 – Phase I: Constructing an Ambush Case Database… 70

    3.2.1 – The Ambush Case Database… 73

    3.3 – Phase II: Preliminary Practitioner Interviews… 82

    3.3.1 – The Nature of Ambush Marketing… 89

    3.3.2 – Implications for Sponsors and Rights Holders… 94

    3.3.3 – Summary of Preliminary Findings… 105

    3.4 – Phase III: In-Depth Expert Interviews… 108

    3.4.1 – Sampling Considerations… 110

    3.4.2 – Data Collection and Analysis… 113

    3.4.3 – The Development of a Typology of Ambush Marketing Strategy… 119

    3.5 – Methodological Conclusions… 121

  • iv

    Chapter IV: Analysis & Discussion of Results… 123

    4.1 – Towards a Theory of Ambush Marketing… 123

    4.2 – Developing a Conceptualization and Typology of Ambush Marketing… 124

    4.3 – A Typology of Ambush Marketing Strategy… 129

    4.3.1 – Direct Ambush Marketing Activities… 133

    4.3.2 – Indirect Ambush Marketing Activities… 155

    4.3.3 – Incidental Ambush Marketing Activities… 175

    4.3.4 – The Evolution of Ambush Marketing… 184

    4.4 – Examining Ambush Marketing‟s Impact on Sponsorship Management… 186

    4.5 – Modeling Ambush Marketing‟s Impact on Sponsorship… 208

    Chapter V: Conclusions and Recommendations… 213

    5.1 – Exploring Ambush Marketing Theory… 213

    5.2 – Embracing a New Understanding of Ambush Marketing… 216

    5.3 – The Future of Ambush Marketing Research… 219

    5.4 – Conclusion… 222

    References… 223

    Appendices… 278

    Appendix A: Phase II Semi-Structured Interview Schedule… 278

    Appendix B: Phase III In-Depth Expert Interview Schedule… 291

    Appendix C: Phase III Expert Interview NVivo Coding Report… 305

  • v

    List of Tables

    Chapter I

    Table 1.1 – Tabulated Summary of Methodology… 10

    Chapter II

    Table 2.1 – Defining Ambush Marketing… 45

    Chapter III