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Ends justify the means! Attitude toward ambush marketing

Muhammed Bilgehan Aytaç (Business Department, Aksaray University, Aksaray, Turkey)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 27 October 2020

Issue publication date: 13 April 2021




This study explores why consumers view ambush marketing as an ethical marketing approach.


A qualitative study was devised to investigate what ambush marketing means to those consumers who find it ethical or are not annoyed by it. Data were collected via focus groups.


Three main themes emerged from the data analyses. The most dominant theme was Machiavellianism. Favorable evaluations of ambush marketing lean on a Machiavellistic understanding. The second was the Robin Hood effect, which is observed when the ambusher is a smaller or local brand. In the third theme, ambush attacks are considered as charismatic or enjoyable action, in what is termed dark charisma.

Practical implications

Findings of the current study suggest considerable implications both for businesses that deal with sponsorship and for organizing committees.


The extant literature on consumers' attitudes toward ambush marketing mostly focuses on ethical issues and/or the effectiveness of ambush marketing (i.e. harm to official sponsors), using qualitative techniques. However, the literature is devoid of studies exploring consumers' perception on ambush marketing, and more specifically, explanations of what is ethical and unethical from consumers' point of view. To best of the author's knowledge, it is the first study that seeks an explanation about consumers' positive evaluation of ambush marketing.



The author acknowledges and appreciates the support of participants in providing the data that made the current research possible. Also the author would like to thank Dr. Mohammad Abubakar of Antalya Bilim University and Fatma Kübra Aytaç of Social Sciences University of Ankara for constructive criticism of the manuscript.


Aytaç, M.B. (2021), "Ends justify the means! Attitude toward ambush marketing", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 485-499.



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