Don’t Talk About the Global Sports Event or Risk Getting In Trouble

Stephen HarveySocial MediaLeave a Comment

hear speak see - no evil - frogs - LTM DigitalIt’s that time again and the world is poised to watch athletes from around the globe compete for ultimate bragging rights within their summer sports. Seems like a great bandwagon for companies to jump on in order to easily spread their self-serving agendas. Lots of buzz, global event, billions of eyes & ears… seems like the perfect scenario for getting a message out and somehow relating it to the BIG event.

DON’T DO IT. Don’t be like Nike, don’t even think about using one of the official big event terms in any messaging. If it happens, then the powers that be (the IOC) will swoop down and slap the offending wrist. From what it looks like the initial punishment action will be a request to take down the offending material.

The International Olympic Committee mandated that all countries develop and enforce individual trademark laws for all materials related to the three week long, international sports event in Rio, Brazil. The U.S. Olympic Committee put together their own specific rules and regulations around what can be said and used regarding the Games starting on August 5, 2016. Lots of references to official terms, what can and can’t be shared on social media, who and what can be mentioned relating to the Big Event, and a scrolling myriad of other items to avoid unless a hand slap is on the “want” list.

The controlled time period is from July 27 through August 24, 2016. Let that be a time warning.

What Can and Can’t Be Said

Adweek references the U.S. bit governing the Event… ‘In the U.S., these rules are dictated by U.S. Code Chapter 2205, which is why you’ll often see the USOC describing its trademark rules as being “under federal law.”’

And, Adweek was so kind as to list the major terms, hashtags, and other things to avoid…(taken from the article and highlighted with colorful commentary)

  1. Businesses can’t use any of the Olympics’ trademarked words or phrases. These terms include:
  • Olympic
  • Olympian
  • Team USA
  • Future Olympian (really? This seems odd to me)
  • Gateway to gold
  • Go for the gold
  • Let the games begin
  • Paralympic
  • Pan Am Games
  • Olympiad
  • Paralympiad
  • Pan-American (wasn’t there an airline that used this exact name? I guess IOC took care of that problem)
  1. You can’t use terms that reference the location of the Olympics, such as:
  • Road to Rio
  • Road to Pyeongchang
  • Road to Tokyo
  • Rio 2016
  • Pyeongchang 2018
  • Tokyo 2020

(heaven forbid mentioning the city name and the year you might be visiting that place)

  1. You must not use words that incorporate the word “Olympic,” such as Mathlympics, Aqualympics, Chicagolympics, Radiolympics, etc. (this is just stifling creativity)
  1. You can’t use hashtags that include Olympics trademarks such as #TeamUSA or #Rio2016. (obviously someone doesn’t get the use of hashtags)
  1. You cannot use any official Olympics logos. (this is actually reasonable)

6. You cannot post any photos taken at the Olympics. (While not mentioned on the USOC’s brand guidelines site, this rule is mentioned in a letter written by USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird and obtained by ESPN.)     
(what?!? Thinking this means leave mobile phones at the hotel? Not sure.)

7. You can’t feature Olympic athletes in your social posts.

  1. You can’t even wish them luck. (craziness! Mandating that people can’t support athletes online, what?!?)
  1. Don’t post any Olympics results. (is this not public knowledge? I could be wrong here.)
  1. You can’t share anything from official Olympics social media accounts. Even retweets are prohibited. (again… craziness!)
  1. No creating your own version of Olympic symbols, “whether made from your own logo, triangles, hexagons, soda bottle tops, onion rings, car tires, drink coasters, basketballs, etc.” (this isn’t full blown craziness and can be understandable)
  1. “Do not host an Olympic- or Paralympic-themed contest or team-building event for employees.” (why not?!? How is this a bad thing?)

Wow! That seems like a whole lot of what NOT to do and it is. Try not to focus on what can not be done, but instead figure out what can be said. Study all the rules and figure out a way to talk about the events in a way that doesn’t go against the wishes of the USOC or the IOC. Following specific events as they are happening and live tweeting about them or actively engaging online with others that are watching the event is a great way to capitalize on the Big Games buzz. Being active online with others talking about the Games is a good tactic for bringing brand recognition to the business. It can also help to establish the voice of the company as being a thought leader and resource center for industry news and information. Results can be achieved with just talking to other people online and being helpful when people need help.

The three week long international athletic event is set to start on Friday and there are lots of rules and regulations around what can and can’t be said… anywhere, not just online. However, this is a fantastic opportunity to capitalize on all the excitement around the Event. Be sure to know the rules and understand them so opportunities can be identified where it is ok to talk about the Global Sporting Spectacle along with the business that wants exposure from it. Be creative, be in the moment, and be interactive with others online and results will be seen.

Please feel free to contact LTM Digital if you want to figure out how to capitalize on major events that have lots of restrictions concerning their branding, logos, and materials. We are happy to help!

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