What You Need to Know About Using the Tokyo Olympics in Your Advertising and Promotion
The next Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan is now rescheduled for 2021. While the date may have changed, the rules for advertising and promotion using the Tokyo Olympics brand has not. Brands often want to capitalize on the Olympics by offering a promotion or campaign that ties into the Olympics theme, but should not do it. The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), in tandem with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already lined up sponsors of the games. If you are not a Worldwide Sponsor or a Tokyo Partner, Sponsor or Supplier, or a Team USA Sponsor or Licensee, or if you don’t already have an ongoing sponsorship of an Olympic athlete, then you need to rethink any mention of the Tokyo Olympics in your advertising or promotion, or be extremely cautious when proceeding.
Because if you aren’t already a sponsor, and you aren’t working on a last minute sponsorship deal or already have a promotional deal in place with an Olympic athlete, the use of any names or logos or images associated with the Olympics or Olympic athlete 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 and it has the government-backed legal power to come down on any and all brands that fail to abide by guidelines.
This means you can’t use any Olympic related logo or image in your creative.
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 the games in Tokyo!”
Expect the 2021 Olympics to have equally stringent rules as what was seen before. 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 absolutely sure 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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