Marketing during the, umm, “forthcoming major competitive event”

Marketing during the, umm, “forthcoming major competitive event”

So, it’s been almost four years since London 2012, and that means that something special is about to happen in Brazil – suddenly, all the adverts on TV are about crates of beer, party food, and carnivals. Even all the bargain-bin post-Euro 2016 England flags have gone back to full price.

I’m kinda excited. I LOVED London 2012 – I was glued to the TV throughout. I was so hooked, it pretty much single-handedly destroyed my Masters Dissertation.

But here’s the thing – you might not know it, but the IOC are super-protective about their brand.

And I don’t mean in a gentle sort of “don’t use our logo to advertise crap knock-off goods” kind of way.

I mean in an absolutely relentless, full-frontal assault, don’t-even-think-about-using-one-of-our-hashtags kind of way.

The restrictions placed on non-sponsors by the IOC are legendary. There are stories about YouTube accounts suspended just for sharing short clips of opening ceremonies.  The official American team have issued guidance to US businesses about avoiding copyright issues. Companies that have sponsored individual athletes now find they’re not even allowed to wish them good luck on Twitter – simply because they’re not official “event” sponsors.

We managed to get some tickets in 2012 for an event at Earls Court, and were astonished that they’d covered up any rogue logos with duct tape. Right down to covering up the “Armitage Shanks” logos on the urinals. I mean, COME ON.

Don’t underestimate this – these guys are FIERCE about protecting their brand.

And if you’re posting anything on behalf of a business, then you need to take this seriously.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and assume that if you’re reading this, then you’re responsible for some sort of marketing communications on behalf of a brand. And, most likely, not an official brand sponsor. So listen up. Here’s how to stay safe during the, umm, event.

  • Forget any related marketing planning you’ve done so far. Be prepared to completely re-write your copy.
  • Don’t mention the ‘O’ word from a business account. Not even once. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. But still, unless you want your business to be the legal test case, avoid it.
  • Don’t use any of the official hashtags, including country hashtags (yep, even those are trademarked). Subversion might be the way to go – #GBTeam might be ok, it might not. Who knows?
  • Don’t feature any of the competitors in your tweets. No, honestly. We’re down the rabbit hole here, people.
  • Don’t retweet *anything* from *any* of the event’s official accounts. This one is so ridiculous, it makes me want to eat my own face. Which, ironically, isn’t an official event, so I’m free to livestream it.

We could go on – but the (admittedly USA-focused) AdWeek piece covers the whole absurd situation better than anyone else (go on, have a quick read of that article. I promise, it’s not a spoof..)

In short – if you want to capitalise on the mood of the country, then you’re gonna need to be creative.

  • Think of ways to reflect the event without mentioning it. There are loads of examples of marketing from non-sponsors on the themes of “carnival” and “Brazil”, that allude to the event without breaking the legislation.
  • Talk about related concepts – like success, determination, winning, competing, being the best, aiming for the win. But don’t use any of the trademarked phrases.
  • Look out for permissible alternative phrases and hashtags. Instead of the “O” word, use “The Big Event”.
  • Take an extra 30 seconds before hitting publish. Every time.

It would obviously be ridiculous for me to finish this blog post without mentioning that we’re on hand to help you find creative ways to win with your content marketing, social media, or any other aspect of your digital marketing. Even after “The Big Event”. Give us a shout, we’d love to hear from you.

David Trott

Lead Digital Marketer

Impact Business Advisors

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