With the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics just a year away (7 February 2014), it’s useful to note that the Sochi organising committee has released English language versions of key Russian anti-ambush marketing legislation and guidance notes. Nick Johnson reports.
Topic: Ambush Marketing
Who: IOC, Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi
Law stated as at: 4 February 2013
With the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics now just a year away (7 February 2014), it’s useful to note that the Sochi organising committee have released English language versions of key Russian anti-ambush marketing legislation and guidance notes.
For those with an interest in Olympic sponsor rights protection measures, the lead Russian statute is “Federal Law No. 310-FZ (1 December 2007) on the organization and holding of the XXII winter Olympic games and XI winter Paralympics games of 2014 in the town of Sochi, on the development of the town of Sochi as a mountain climate health resort and on amending certain legislative acts of the
Russian Federation”. Key highlights include:
- A ban on unauthorised advertising within a 1km radius of Olympic venues during the period from 1 month before the Olympic Games opening ceremony until 1 month after the Paralympic Games closing ceremony (Article 6(1)).
- During the same restricted period, a ban on any “advertising
on sportswear, accessories or sports equipment to be used by athletes or other participants in the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games”, save to the extent permitted under the Olympic Charter (Article 6(2)).
- A deeming provision, whereby any material that misleadingly suggests that a business or advertiser is associated with the
Olympics/Paralympics will be deemed to be unfair competition, vulnerable to challenge by the Russian antimonopoly authorities (Article 8).
- Specific power for President Putin to establish enhanced security measures for the restricted period, including:
“establishment of controlled and/or prohibited areas; … restriction on movement of vehicles; … restriction on flights of aircraft; … enhancement of security measures to protect public order and facilities; … restriction on holding public events which are not related to the Olympic Games and the
Paralympic Games; … screening of individuals and the items carried by them, as well as of vehicles and their contents, at the time of entry into and departure from a controlled area, including with the use of technical devices” (Article 10).
- Various terms and marks including “Olympic”, “Olympiad”, “Sochi 2014″, “Olympian”, “Olympic Winter Games”, “Olympic Games” and words and expressions derived from them, as well as the Olympic symbol, fire, torch, flag, anthem, motto, emblems and “historical symbols of any previous Olympic Games” are protected. Unauthorised use of a protected mark that “creates an impression that [the user is] associated with the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games” is unlawful (Article 7).
Why this matters
With security arrangements yet to be finalised and ticket terms and conditions not yet published, we do not at this stage have a complete picture of the full range of brand and sponsor rights protections for Sochi 2014.
However, the restricted zone prohibition in particular appears to be a much blunter tool than the equivalent UK legislation introduced for the London 2012 Games. The 2012 legislation for instance had
carve-outs for ads on mobile devices and for branded apparel worn by members of the public (provided this was not used as part of an orchestrated campaign). It also permitted ads and branding on moving vehicles, and some existing advertising material associated
with retail premises. The Sochi 2014 legislation has no such exemptions, and may give rise to some significant challenges for non-sponsors who have existing branding in the vicinity zone or who may plan to establish some brand presence during the Games.