The International Olympic Committee’s efforts to keep ambush marketing, a ploy by non-official sponsors to gain mileage through association with the 2016 Rio Olympics, have already started.
The International Olympic Committee’s efforts to keep ambush marketing, a ploy by non-official sponsors to gain mileage through association with the 2016 Rio Olympics, have already started. During the Games period, from July 27 to August 24, every Olympic participant is expected to follow Rule 40 on the Olympic Charter.
The rule — “Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, team official or other team personnel who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games” — appears harmless in theory but has strict ramifications in practice.
According to a report on the BBC, even an innocuous good luck message to an athlete on social media by a sponsor who is not the official partner of the 2016 Rio Olympics during the Games period could spell trouble for the recipient. The IOC can rule that the message is in violation of the Olympic Charter if it has any reference to the Games in Rio. Some of the words that could rile the IOC are victory, performance, effort and 2016.
The IOC, which wants to ensure that no one including the athlete’s personal kit sponsor derive any advantage through his/her performance at the Games, has also banned Rio, Rio de Janeiro, gold, silver, bronze, medal, podium, Games, Olympic, Olympics, Olympic Games, Olympiad and Olympiads in ambush marketing. Even the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius and Fortius, and its translation is barred!
The onus is on national Olympic committees to educate their athletes about the perils of ambush marketing because repeated violations of Rule 40 could even result in disqualification. The British Olympic Associa-tion has given some Twitter examples on violations in an advisory to its athletes. A company, which has no official Olympic partnership, can’t tweet: Wishing @adavid good luck for his race today or congrats to @bjohn on his gold medal! The company can’t also re-tweet any Rio related information put out by the official handle of a national Olympic committee.
Athletes can wear shoes sporting the logos of their personal sponsors; but they must not attempt to promote them during competitions.
Usain Bolt has often been accused of indulging in unethical promotion of Puma by raising his shoes emblazoned with the company’s signature animal image after races.
American basketball superstar Michael Jordan used an American flag to hide the logo of Reebok, Team USA’s official kit sponsor, on his jacket during the medal ceremony of the 1992 Olympics. For him, a lucrative personal deal with Nike was more important than being loyal to the sponsor of his country. Great Britain sprinter Linford Christie wore Puma contact lenses during a press conference at the 1996 Games to do his bit for innovation in ambush marketing.