If you are not an official Olympics sponsor, running an Olympics-related marketing campaign is not easy. As we discussed in a previous post, while the International Olympic Committee modified a rule (Rule 40) last summer that makes it possible for non-sponsors to run Olympics ad campaigns, there are a lot of restrictions. They can’t mention words like “Olympics” and “Rio”; they can’t use visual symbols like the Olympics rings; and there are many other constraints. In addition, non-sponsors had to get their campaigns approved in late January and begin running their campaigns in late March.
While some brands, like adidas, Gatorade and Under Armour, are gladly taking advantage of the rule modification, other brands are not happy. Oiselle, a women’s premium running apparel brand, has been particularly vocal in making it known that they feel Rule 40 is still too restrictive. Sally Bergesen, the founder and CEO of Oiselle, recently told Adweek:
“The relaxed Rule 40 is a joke. You had to have submitted your campaign in January, before anybody’s qualified for anything. Then, you need to start running your campaign in March, so you don’t get any timing benefit with the Olympics. For small businesses, running an ad campaign from March through August is really expensive.”
We recently came across a brand that is creatively marketing to the Olympics, even though they are not a sponsor, nor did they submit a campaign under Rule 40. In late June, Autotrader launched a 30-second TV commercial, entitled “Driven by Sport”. The commercial does not mention the Olympics or Rio, it doesn’t use any of the Olympic symbols, and it doesn’t feature any Olympic athletes. All of the visuals, however, do show people participating in sports that are associated with the Summer Olympics, like gymnastics, cycling and wrestling. The implicit connection with the Olympics is pretty obvious. Well done, Autotrader.
Want to see what other unofficial sponsors, and actual sponsors, are doing for the Rio Olympics? Check out the Brand Olympics website, where all big brand activity is being tracked throughout the Olympic Games!