Planning a Rio 2016 Olympics Promotion
Update: See our updated guidelines for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The next Summer Olympic Games will be in Brazil in August of 2016. The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), in tandem with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have already lined up sponsors of the games.
If you are not a Worldwide TOP Partner already, like Coca-Cola, Atos, Bridgestone, Dow, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and VISA are, or if you aren’t a worldwide supplier like Nike and Audi are, or a Team USA Sponsor, and you aren’t a Brazil 2016 Sponsor like Embratel, Claro and Nissan are, then you may want to rethink any kind of Olympics promotion, or be very cautious when proceeding.
Because if you aren’t one of those companies listed above, and you aren’t working on a last minute sponsorship deal, the use of the any names or logos or images associated with the Olympics is not allowed and is considered “ambush marketing.”
The Olympic Marks and Imagery Usage Handbook defines ambush marketing as “a planned attempt by a third party to associate itself directly or indirectly with the Olympic Games to gain the recognition and benefits associated with being an Olympic Marketing Partner.”
In the United States, the “USOC” and the “IOC” are the only organizations legally able to license the use of the Olympic indicia, trademarks and slogans and other intellectual property. The USOC is a Federal Government Chartered Corporation. It is as fearsome as it sounds and has the teeth to protect its property.
This means you can’t use an image of the Olympic rings image in your creative.
You can’t promote that your brand’s spokesperson is an Olympic athlete.
You can’t even do a simple sweeps to give away tickets to the Olympics and say, “Enter for a chance to win a trip to Rio in 2016!”
We offered the same advice for brands for the 2012 Olympics in London when very particular rules were issued regarding what was allowed and not allowed.
- Prohibiting the use of the following words: “games,” “two thousand and twelve,” “2012,” or “twenty twelve” together, or combined with “gold,” “silver,” “bronze,” “London,” “medals,” “sponsor,” or “summer” in advertising (by non-sponsors) or on products/merchandise when used in a context that could suggest an association with the 2012 Olympic Games.
- Barring non-sponsors from buying promoted ads with hashtags like #London2012. In addition, participants and other accredited persons were not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites.
Expect the 2016 Olympics to have equally stringent rules as what was seen in 2012. To enforce the marks, the USOC solicits help with affiliated local host committees and the IOC. Hundreds of cases exist where cease and desist orders have been sent to immediately halt any unauthorized use. Many of these have been accompanied by lawsuits where infringement of Olympic symbols has occurred.
If you aren’t sure if your promotion idea or creative concept would be considered ambush marketing then contact us. We can help you evaluate it and make recommendations to help you avoid a lawsuit or pursue an alternative promotion plan.
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