Ambush Marketing - New Zealand is in Search of Events to Host

Posted: 19 Feb 2008

See all articles by Owen J. Morgan

Owen J. Morgan

University of Auckland - Business School

Date Written: February 1, 2008


Ambush marketing is a marketing strategy that intersects with the law of unfair competition and one that provokes debate and competing arguments. The arguments of event organisers and sponsors have proved to be influential and, in response to pressure from those parties, legislatures in a number of jurisdictions including Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and, most recently, New Zealand have enacted legislation directed at controlling ambush marketing. This paper discusses ambush marketing by reference to the Major Events Management Act 2007 ('the MEMA'), a statute which has recently been enacted in New Zealand. The MEMA is sui generis legislation that focuses on unfair competition in relation to major events. Its control extends beyond ambush marketing to other activities commonly associated with sports events such as ticket scalping and invading the playing pitch, however, those provisions are not discussed in this paper.

The purpose of this paper is to contextualise the MEMA within the ambush marketing environment. It is divided into three sections. The first answers the question, what is ambush marketing? In the second section, it discusses a number of important points made by Jerry Welsh (the man who coined the term 'ambush marketing') and goes on to review consumer attitudes towards ambush marketing. The final section describes the major legal means available to event organisers and their associates to combat ambush marketing. It introduces the existing means of legal protection against ambush marketing and describes the major features of the MEMA. The paper concludes that, by implementing legislation that puts the financial investment of overseas organisers and corporate sponsors first in the hope that they will bring their events to New Zealand, the country has sold its soul in order to attract major events. It is a clear example of legislation that is based on the maxim that the end justifies the means.

Keywords: Ambush marketing, intellectual property

JEL Classification: K00, K11, K20, M30, M31, M37, O34

Suggested Citation

Morgan, Owen J., Ambush Marketing - New Zealand is in Search of Events to Host (February 1, 2008). Available at SSRN:

Owen J. Morgan (Contact Author)

University of Auckland - Business School ( email )

12 Grafton Rd
Private Bag 92019
Auckland, 1010
New Zealand

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