Holden’s blimp over the MCG during the AFL Grand Final might have upset Toyota, the AFL’s official sponsor, but it was hardly “un-Australian” marketing.
Holden saw a captive audience of thousands at the MCG, and took the opportunity to market to them. Since when has it been “un-Australian” to be creative? Holden was simply using public airspace to advertise its product and it broke no laws in doing so.
Cricket Australia are thinking about asking the government for legislation to stop the same thing happening during the Ashes. But is it the role of government to protect advertisers from other advertisers?
Even less is it the role of government to hand over an asset — in this case the rights to airspace — to an advertiser for free.
The solution lies in property rights. If advertisers wanted to stop competitors from flying giant blimps over their events they should pay to buy the airspace.
As it stands, the air has been designated by the government as a public asset, rather than property, and Holden has every right to fly through it. In a truly free-market economy, organisations and individuals would be able to purchase or lease the rights to airspace and utilise it in whatever way they chose.
There already exists a wide range of legislation designed to protect against many forms of ambush marking. The Trade Practices Act protects against ambushing companies engaging in deceptive or misleading conduct, or falsely representing sponsorship deals. Holden did none of these things.
“Ambush marketing” is the market in action. And it’s kind of funny.