The Olympics are an opportunity of a lifetime, not only for athletes but for marketers too. Unfortunately, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare for brands who aren’t official Olympic sponsors.
In 2012, we talked about the limitations of companies who weren’t official sponsors (rumored to cost upward of $25 million) to benefit from the Olympics in any capacity.
“Athletes were barred from tweeting about non-official sponsors, and non-sponsors were not allowed to feature Olympic athletes that they had sponsorship deals with in ads.” –Adweek
Heading into the 2016 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made changes to Rule 40, which the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) adopted. These revisions allow non-official sponsors to endorse Olympic athletes and run ad campaigns featuring them while also allowing athletes to tweet about non-official sponsors.
There are rules to these more relaxed revisions, of course. Brands and athletes had to submit waivers to the USOC by January 27, 2016, to have their marketing and social media campaigns approved, and ads had to begin running before March 27, 2016. Also, non-sponsor brands and athletes promoting them are not allowed to use Olympic intellectual property (IP), which includes the Olympic rings and terms such as Olympics, Rio 2016 and gold.
How can your small business or startup achieve Olympic glory?
- Throw an Olympic watch party that ties in your products or services. Invite clients, customers, prospects and employees to join in the fun (and share their good times on social).
- Reference the Olympic spirit or other aspects of the games in your social media content without using Olympic IP, which includes official hashtags. (Under Armour has done a great job in this area!)
- Announce a customer loyalty program to capitalize on the excitement of the games and create momentum for a strong second half.
- Hold internal competitions for employees, physical and/or job-related, complete with decorations, cool prizes and food. Competitors have to eat, right? 🙂
What are your thoughts on Rule 40: too strict, too relaxed or just right?
Should brands who are not official sponsors be able to use Olympic IP, including hashtags?
Will these restrictions impact future Olympic sponsorship deals?
What other ways can small businesses and startups get in on the Olympic spirit?
An Olympics fan,