For the first time, athletes may appear in the ads of nonofficial sponsors during the Olympic Games.
In a massive win for athletes hoping to score as many endorsement deals as possible, the International Olympic Committee decided to permit the involvement of nonofficial sponsors – as long as the ad does not include any references to the Games.
The athletes, however, are far from the only beneficiaries of the new rules. Countless brands that missed or declined the opportunity to gain official status now have the freedom to participate actively in the event.
They do not need to sit on the sidelines and brainstorm clever tweets to attract attention. Instead, the limitations on brands are minimal and only come down to language. They cannot use the words “Olympic” or “Olympiad,” or phrases such as “Gold,” “Games,” “Victory,” or “Rio de Janeiro” in order to imply a relation between the brand and the Games.
Regardless, this is a victory for advertisers everywhere. For 17 days, the biggest stars on the planet will be the very athletes putting everything they’ve got on the line to win, and no longer is their potential limited. The millions that the luckiest among them will make, however, will still pale in comparison to the brands themselves.
The official sponsors of the Games are no longer safe from the threat of their competitors. Under Armour, whose fiercest competitor Nike is among the official sponsors, now plans to run its recently launched global campaign through the Games in August. Their campaign highlights the US women’s gymnastics team, which consistently ranks among the most popular aspects of the Olympics.
Though the new rule is a major blow for the official sponsors, it is a few years in the making. During the 2012 Olympics, a number of athletes demanded the freedom to promote brands they already represent.
As the advertising world continues to advance at a record pace, the potential for all brands to promote successful campaigns is limitless. Their future is in their own hands, and the gold medal is free for the taking.
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