The biggest warm-weather athletic event in the world is happening right now, but we can’t talk to you about it. That’s because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a moratorium on the use of all of their trademarks for any business that is not an official sponsor. The list of forbidden terms and actions is extremely comprehensive – you can find it here.
The thing that we believe they aren’t taking into account, however, is that the quadriennal summer competition was founded with the goal of bringing people together. Every country is invited, and it crosses boundaries of language, ideology and geography. It is traditionally one of the only venues where everyone is on a level playing field- whether that field is a court, a pool, or something else depends on the athlete in question, of course.
Allowing the individual athletes to promote themselves, during what for so many of them are the biggest two weeks of their lives, would be a positive, natural extension of the original brand. And allowing people to wish individual athletes luck, and allowing the hashtags for the Games to proliferate would allow the welcoming, unifying halo that is the primary effect of the brand to extend throughout their market, and enhance, not detract, from the benefit their primary sponsors are receiving by association.
And really, given the viral nature of today’s social networks, can one brand have real control?