The 2012 Olympic Games are now fast approaching, having originally felt like an eternity away back on 6th July 2005. Many companies will be looking to capitalise on the world looking in on England, and will be hoping to piggy back on the Olympics for their own awareness and profits. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bring with them one of the most strict and heavily enforced set of trademark restrictions, sponsorship and marketing rule sets in the world.
For any Marketer, 2012 will more than likely pose more temptation to jump on a bandwagon to incorporate Olympic related jargon and phrases to their creative and advertising. However, the implications of this could be catastrophic if the marketer does not follow the strict guidelines set by The Olympic Symbol etc (Protection Act) of 1995
Senior marketers could therefore be found guilty of an offence unless they can prove that ambush activity for their brand took place without their knowledge, or that they took reasonable steps to prevent it.
The policing around the brand and the protection of official IOC sponsorship deals is set to be very significant. A key area that could potentially cause significant problems is the use of Google Adwords for any PPC Campaigns.
The implications for PPC marketing are heightened because of the limitations that are implied from the combination of words from the IOC's List A and List B. Simply put, you must not use two or more words from "List A" along with one or more words from "List B".
A recent blog post from eConsultancy highlights the following AdWords samples as being dangerous under the "List A" vs "List B" ruling.
The trick is to avoid "Games" along with "2012". Here are the two lists;
List A: Games, 2012, Two Thousand and Twelve, Twenty-Twelve.
List B: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Medals, Sponsor/s, London, Summer.
There are two important parts of this article, one we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. The second is that we believe that the IOC will hopefully be focussing more on brands and companies who are attempting to utilise ambush marketing with their campaigns. i.e. companies who are not associated with the official sponsors looking to gain from the games. The likelihood is that the IOC will not look to penalise retailers who by chance are trying to sell computer games in the summer of 2012.
The trouble with policing ambush marketing is knowing where to draw the line, i.e. if a confectionary company pitched up outside a venue targeting the footfall generated by the games who is not associated, or any advertising positively linking the games to their products. Similarly, it may be the case that London 2012 or the IOC notice that quite a few branded t-shirts (as per the 2010 FIFA World Cup) appear in the crowds for certain events. This could be coincidence but if the brands AdWords also appear to be in breach of the List rules then this may start to cause trouble.
As a Digital Marketing Agency, we are extremely aware of the implications of the games, and the guidelines that we need to adhere to. The danger is clients who are managing their own campaigns and creative may not be so aware. Therefore we would like to make all readers aware of the paper that The Chartered Institute of Marketing has put together about Marketing and the Olympics.
In addition to AdWords, we are especially concerned about affiliate marketing during the Olympics as it not yet clear whether brands will be held responsible for what their affiliates say.