Ambush marketing can be defined as prohibited marketing activities which try to take advantage of the huge interest and high profile of an event by creating a commercial association and/or seeking promotional exposure without the authorisation of the event organiser.

Such prohibited marketing activities can be of a direct or indirect nature. A direct association is established when a brand tries to link itself directly to the event, be it through advertising or promotions such as ticket giveaways, use of the tournament designations, etc. An indirect association aims to achieve an association with the event without making a direct link, often implementing creative campaigns aimed at achieving a link to the event. Marketing activities by non-sponsor companies that seek to take advantage of the huge public interest in the event through physical on-site presence can also be categorised as prohibited. The common denominator of such prohibited marketing activities is that they primarily seek free advertising.

The reason that FIFA considers prohibited marketing as a priority in its brand protection work is that it puts FIFA’s commercial programme directly at risk by trying to devalue official sponsorship. Companies engaging in prohibited marketing fail to appreciate that the FIFA World Cup™ is the result of FIFA’s significant efforts to develop and promote the tournament, something which would not be possible without the financial support of FIFA’s Commercial Affiliates. Ambush marketers try to take advantage of the goodwill and positive image generated by the FIFA World Cup™ without contributing to its organisation.