Case Study: An Introduction to Freeloading: Campus-Area Ambush Marketing, pp. 118-122

Aubrey Kent
Richard M. Campbell

On and around college campuses, many businesses display posters and banners, paint their storefronts with school mascots, and prominently use school team colors in promotional efforts. While many of these businesses are sponsors or members of school sanctioned booster organizations, some are not. Businesses that are not paying to be affiliated with the school, yet engage in such activities, seemingly fall within the definition of ambush marketing. We have labeled this distinct type of ambush marketing as “freeloading,” as companies realize benefits without paying for them, yet are not prohibited from doing so by the school. Data gathered in the vicinity of three college campuses indicate that such practices are not only prevalent but are purposeful in their intent. The objectives of presenting this case are to begin a discussion with regards to 1) the existence of this specific type of ambush marketing, 2) its effect on paying sponsors, and 3) its repercussions for collegiate athletic department marketers.