Rio is coming. Oh yes. For a few brief weeks the entire
population become passionate, crazy sports fans. And that can
logically only lead to one thing.
The thing is, the Olympic brand is the most heavily protected
brand to exist, ever. Seriously. It has trade mark protection,
copyright protection, design protection, protection under the
Australian Consumer Law and its very own Olympic Insignia
Protection Act. On top of that, the IOC restricts Olympic athletes
and other Olympic participants from endorsing nonofficial
brands during a blackout period around the Games.
The gist of all these laws is the same. Don't infer Olympic
endorsement or use the Olympic brand unless you have the AOC's
permission. Sounds easy. But it's not surprising that agencies
and advertisers push the laws to their furthest boundaries; the
Olympics are far too valuable a marketing opportunity to pass
Case in point, Telstra. It (quite cleverly) tried to
piggyback on Channel Seven's official Olympic broadcaster
status, advertising that it was the 'Official Technology
Partner of Seven's Olympic Games Coverage'. Telstra is not
itself an official Olympic sponsor. Optus got those rights this
The AOC cried foul. So Telstra added a footer to the ads saying
that it's not an official sponsor of the Olympics. Still
unsatisfied, the AOC has taken its footy up to the Federal Court.
It will likely argue that you can't use a qualifier to
fundamentally change the meaning of the headline. If Telstra loses,
it could face hefty fines. And the AOC could also seek an account
for all of Telstra's profits flowing from the campaign.
We like guerrilla advertising as much as the next guy. It's
entertaining to consume and the legal issues are interesting. Just
make sure you have an appetite for risk. It's expensive if you
get it wrong.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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