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Exploring newsjacking as social media–based ambush marketing

Nicholas Burton (Department of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada)
Cole McClean (Centre for Sport Capacity, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 2 September 2020

Issue publication date: 30 April 2021




This study explores the use of event-related promotional hashtags by non-sponsors as a form of social ambushing, akin to newsjacking, as potential means of ambushing major events and the potential challenges facing commercial rights holders.


Framed within the context of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, the present research takes a descriptive analytical approach to social media analysis. Social media data were accessed from Twitter's API across a six-week Games period and subsequently coded and categorized based upon strategic intent, content and key structural characteristics. A quantitative analysis of Tweet distribution, frequency and buzz was then conducted, providing insight into the impacts and effects of social ambushing via newsjacking.


Importantly, the study's findings suggest that whilst newsjacking by non-sponsors throughout the Games was pervasive, the potential reach and impact of such social ambushing may be limited. Non-sponsoring firms primarily adopted Games hashtags for behavioural or diversionary means, however consumer response to such attempts was minimal. These findings offer renewed perspective for scholars and practitioners on social ambushing and ambush marketing interventionism.


This research provides an important investigation into the manifestations and potential implications of social ambushing and illustrates the potential for brands to newsjack sporting events through unauthorized hashtag usage, necessary advances in sport marketing research.



Burton, N. and McClean, C. (2021), "Exploring newsjacking as social media–based ambush marketing", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 143-163.



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