Advertising and Sponsorship of the Olympic Games
8 August 2016 by Marketing Team
With the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games having now commenced we will no doubt be seeing adverts left, right and centre for the games and for the athletes of team GB that will be competing. Advertising and sponsorship for the Olympic Games has occurred for almost a century, with Coke sponsoring the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games. Over the last century sponsorship has become hugely important and at the same time more complex as the games have grown into a commercial giant. There are now different levels of sponsorship which entitles companies to different levels of marketing, so depending upon what level they sponsor at, they can only advertise to a certain degree.
To prevent non-sponsors from advertising for the London 2012 games the UK Government went so far as to pass the London Olympic Games and Paraylmpic games Act 2006. This prevented those non-sponsors from using any imaging or wording from the games. However, it could be argued that this legislation had an unexpectedly negative effect on British patriotism throughout the country: The University of Derby was told to take down their banner that read “supporting the British Olympics” and bakers at the British Sugarcraft Guild were told that using Olympic symbols in icing and marzipan modelling would breach copyright!
It’s not all doom and gloom for companies who are not official games sponsors though as the International Olympics Committee have now relaxed their guidelines of Rule 40. Rule 40 is a by-law in the official Olympic Charter that states “No competitor, coach, trainer or official 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”. It effectively imposed a blackout on non-official adverts during the games and even meant that non-sponsors could not wish their athletes good luck or congratulate them.
The ‘relaxing’ of Rule 40 now means that non-official sponsors can run advertisement campaigns during the Olympics that use their athletes, providing they don’t openly link it to the Olympics. Adverts needed to be pitched by January though so there won’t be any last minute campaigns going viral. Under Armour, Go Pro and Virgin are just three of the companies to have taken advantage already and hopefully this will enable more freedom in supporting athletes over the next few weeks of captivating sport.