The Beijing Organising Committee has put in place some of the toughest ever measures to combat ambush marketing at the 2008 Olympics, with signs already emerging of these backfiring on official sponsors. Nick Johnson takes a hop, skip and a jump through some of the measures.
Topic: Ambush marketing
When: June-August 2008
Law stated as at: 29 July 2008
The Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has issued and begun to enforce tough measures to try and prevent non-sponsors from taking advantage of the Beijing Olympics 2008.
Those measures include:
- A ban between 1 and 27 August on the use in ads of images of Olympic athletes, coaches and officials.
- Government "advice" to media companies to "carry ads of Olympic partners or sponsors on their Olympic channels, and not allow non-Olympic partners or sponsors to appear on the channels".
- Between 11 July and 17 September 2008 all prominent advertising sites in Beijing (including the airport, railway stations, main streets and a 20km exclusion zone around the Olympic venues) is controlled by the government and BOCOG. This follows a general crack-down in 2007 on billboards and poster sites that did not meet official government requirements. According to reports in Advertising Age, this has led to more than 30,000 outdoor ads being removed, with more than 100 large billboards on the airport highway being dismantled. While the stated intention is to give priority to Olympic sponsors, the extent of the cull has meant that demand for outdoor media space from the 60+ official sponsors now far outstrips supply.
Why this matters:
Official sponsors want their rights to be policed and exclusivity to be enforced, but not at any cost. When rights protection programmes get out of hand, it is more often than not the official sponsors who end up the losers. Over-zealous enforcement against spectators in the Cricket World Cup 2003 (for drinking the wrong cola) led to unwarranted media flak for official sponsor Pepsi. In FIFA Germany 2008, Dutch fans being forced to remove branded orange lederhosen-style outfits only led to greater press coverage for the "ambush marketer" Bavaria beer.
It is to be hoped, for the sake of official sponsors, that BOCOG will take an enlightened and media-savvy approach to enforcement during the Beijing Games. But with the measures on outdoor advertising having already backfired on official sponsors, you have to wonder how realistic this hope may be.