LONDON: A majority of young consumers are opposed to ambush marketing at sporting events and think that brands linking themselves to events should be official sponsors according to new research.

Voxburner, the youth insights specialist, surveyed over 1,000 online consumers aged between 16 and 24 about their views around sports sponsorship and found 66% of respondents believed that if a brand was looking to associating itself with a sporting event then it should be an official sponsor and feature the official logo.

There was widespread disapproval of ambush marketing, The Drum reported: 59% did not agree with the idea at all and 78% supported organisers in their efforts to prevent 'unofficial' brands getting publicity.

The picture was less clear when asked about the brands they remembered as being associated with the London Olympics in 2012. The top three responses were all official sponsors – McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Adidas – but the fourth was Nike which had adopted an ambush marketing strategy for the event.

Afterwards, Martin Lotti, Nike's global creative director for the Olympics, explained that the brand had been able to establish an unofficial "Team Nike" at the Games using strong design, vivid branding and a co-ordinated approach. This had involved, for example, getting the 400 athletes linked with Nike to wear its Flyknit trainers in a luminous yellow-green colour.

Writing in Admap, Tony Meenaghan of University College Dublin, distinguished between ambush marketing as stunt and ambush marketing as strategy and noted that Nike was in the latter camp.

Stunts, such as beer brand Bavaria's Dutch Dress campaign at the 2010 World Cup, tended to get immediate publicity while garnering brand values that related to the stunt rather than the event. It may be this aspect of ambush marketing that young consumers object to most.

Luke Mitchell, head of insight at Voxburner, remarked that young people often appeared keen to deny brands' success at selling to them. "Yet in these results we see acknowledgement that sponsorship achieves visibility and the use of event-related messaging on products makes them more attractive," he said

On the dislike of ambush marketing he added that follow-up discussions had indicated that "it's about brands being classy - marketers may not realise that young people have a good understanding of their tactics".

Data sourced from The Drum, Admap; additional content by Warc staff