From the Front Lines to the Halls of Academia: Charting Ambush Marketing Discourse

Stephen McKelvey

The 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, widely-chronicled as the first “corporate sponsored,” revenue-generating Games, is also recognized in sports marketing lore as the birthplace of ambush marketing. The term arose as a way to describe Kodak’s marketing activities designed to “blunt” the official sponsorship rights of U.S. upstart Fuji Photo Film (McKelvey, 2014). It remains unconfirmed in the annals of sport marketing whether the pejoratively-laden term was first coined by a journalist or by a sport sponsorship executive. What is not in question, however, is that the term (after all, who could resist the word “ambush”?) gained instant traction and has since become engrained in sport sponsorship lexicon.

Open Access