Posted by:
Gemma Brown, Account Executive
10th Aug 16

An Olympic minefield?


With the first week of the Rio 2016 Olympics underway, it’s difficult to escape the hype; with daily coverage in the newspapers, on the radio and across the TV and social channels. The run up to this year’s games was certainly not a smooth ride, as the Zika virus broke out in Brazil and drug cheat allegations dominated the press. So did we really expect the Games to go smoothly either?

The Olympic Games has long been known to be a major platform for brands, however this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) shook up the rules for advertising. While sponsors have full reign of the language they can use throughout the Games, non-sponsors had to submit their campaigns at the start of this year in order to be allowed to talk about the Olympics on social media. For the official sponsors, including Coca Cola and Visa, it means they have to share top athletes with non-sponsors that have paid absolutely nothing to the IOC. Yet for these non-sponsors, the challenge was to come up with a campaign that didn’t include terms such as “Olympics”, “Rio” and “Games”, as well as some broader terms such as “performance”, “victory” and “challenge”. The result is that few brands have taken up the opportunity to plan campaigns through fear of breaking the rules.

For those who have dared to step into the social media minefield, how are they talking about the Olympics without actually saying “Olympics”? With athletic apparel company, Oiselle, creating its own elusive hashtag, #TheBigEvent, and Google creating its own DoodleFruit Games with cartoon fruit, I think Ford has hit the nail on the head with its sponsored Snapchat lens. The ever-popular filter feature will let users paint their faces red, white and blue on 13th August in aid of cheering on Team GB.

Great Britain has always wanted to publicly show patriotism for its athletes, but the most recent story to hit the headlines was the bronze medal synchronised diving win by Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow. UK newspaper print and online coverage has since been widely criticised after some cropped Daley’s partner out and only had Tom on their covers. And for those who did include a photo of Daniel on the cover, just called him Tom’s, “synchronised partner”. We know Tom is a household name, but what happened to celebrating the success of everyone? Safe to say, the Twitterati was not happy and thousands of users tweeted their appreciation for the young diver – the power of social media strikes again. Even Daniel Goodfellow’s mum jumped online to defend her son.

We’re only six days in and still have twelve to go, so it’ll be interesting to see what else Rio 2016, and indeed sponsors and non-sponsors serve up for us!

Gemma Brown
Account Executive

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