The International Olympic Committee has publicized several rules
to prevent behaviors that exploit the event by companies that are
not official sponsors (known internationally as Ambush
Among these guidelines, it is worth highlighting rule #40 in the
Olympic Charter, which institutes a rule for athletes, coaches and
other official personnel. It prohibits the exploitation of their
picture, name, or athletic performance for advertising purposes
during the Olympic Games.
Also, the advertising activities of the athletes' sponsors
is being regulated, prohibiting the launch of a new campaign during
the Games. Regarding the ad campaigns that are already underway,
they may continue to be aired as long as they do not give off the
impression that they are official Olympic sponsors. In addition,
the latter requires the approval of the National or International
Additionally, rule #50 of the Olympic Charter prohibits
advertisements or publicity inside, above, or in the immediate
surroundings of the stadiums and other installations, regardless of
whether it is related to business, politics, religion, or of racial
origin. These may not be used on billboards, directly on people or
articles of clothing, or equipment used by competitors, team
officials, or other participants in the Olympic Games.
On the other hand, companies should take into account that
expressions related to this sporting event such as Olympic Games,
Olympic, Olympian, or Rio 2016, among others, are copyrighted under
law. Their use in advertising can constitute an act of brand
violation or unfair competition. With the purpose of avoiding any
risk by association, the International Olympic Committee recommends
that companies who are not official sponsors include a phrase that
expressly indicates that the company whose products are mentioned
in this ad campaign is not an official sponsor in Rio 2016.
Even so, the use of any Olympic Games or Rio 2016 logo for
publishing or press purposes is allowed as long as there is no
commercial association made with the Olympic brand.
Finally, regarding radio and television, it is not permitted to
use advertising before, during or after the broadcasting of Olympic
material, as this could cause a risk by association between the
company and the Olympic Games.
These rules are general guidelines that each company needs to
analyze carefully in regards to their advertising plans. Hopefully,
that will avoid lawsuits or claims for possible infractions of the
intellectual property of the Olympic Games.
Originally published July 18, 2016
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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