Ambush marketing LOCOG clarifies Olympic black-out periods confusion. With different official guidance apparently giving different start dates for the “black-out” period at Games time, when Olympic athletes are prohibited from appearing in ads, it’s no wonder sponsors, advertisers and others have got confused as to whether 16 or 18 July is the key date. Nick Johnson explains the discrepancy.
Topic: Ambush marketing
Who: London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and International Olympic Committee (IOC)
When: June 2012
Law stated as at: 13 June 2012
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has clarified that, notwithstanding IOC social media guidance that provides for a black-out period of 16 July 2012 to 15 August 2012, the black-out period for advertising appearances by Olympic team members is actually 18 July 2012 to 15 August 2012.
Rule 40 of the IOC’s Olympic Charter includes a bye-law that provides for a period during and around the Olympic Games when athletes and other Olympic team members are prohibited from appearing in ads. However the Olympic Charter is silent as to the exact dates of that period. Different official guidance documents have appeared inconsistent as to the black-out period dates, and this has led to confusion amongst sponsors, advertisers, agencies and others:
– LOCOG guidance and Team USA guidance refer to a period of 18 July 2012 to 15 August 2012;
– IOC guidance on social media, blogging etc says 16 July 2012 to 15 August 2012.
We asked LOCOG to clarify the position, and senior LOCOG brand protection lawyer Alex Kelham has helpfully explained that the longer period mentioned in the IOC guidance does not relate to the Rule 40 bye-law. Rather it applies to the separate bye-law under Rule 48 of the Olympic Charter, under which Olympic team members are prohibited from acting as journalists during the Games period. The Rule 40 period, say LOCOG, is “definitely 18 July 2012 to 15 August 2012″.
Why this matters:
It’s important for both sponsors and non-sponsors to have clarity on the dates of the applicable black-out periods. No-one wants to put an Olympic athlete at risk of disciplinary proceedings – or worse, disqualification from the Games. Athletes will of course want to be able to get the maximum financial value out of their commercial arrangements with brands and media organisations. That will typically mean taking advertising appearances right up to the wire before the black-out periods kick in.
Having two different periods is potentially confusing, but at least we have some clarity now as to what they each cover!