SBD/Issue 100/Olympics

IOC Rule Banning Olympian Ads From Non-Games Sponsors In Effect

Ohno Able To Participate In
Washington Potato Campaign
The IOC's Rule 41 went into effect Thursday, forbidding athletes from "participating in any campaign run by a non-Olympic sponsor from Feb. 4 to March 3" unless granted clearance from a national Olympic commission, according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. While the goal of the rule is "obviously to prevent ambush marketing, the rule certainly hurts Olympians from signing deals with non-sponsors since those companies are longshots to be granted waivers." The USOC said that it "makes exceptions to Rule 41 when there is no conflict with an IOC or USOC sponsor, and when one of the athletes is promoting a good cause and/or there is a natural tie-in to the broadcast." For example, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno was allowed to participate in a campaign for the Washington Potato Association that "promotes good nutrition," while hockey player Julie Chu, ice dancer Ben Agosto and speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez were permitted to be part of a U.S. Census Bureau campaign. But Rovell noted industry sources contend that the "hands off period becomes a deterrent for advertisers to sign those athletes in the first place because if the athletes can't be used in the week before the games, what's the point of having them on the roster to begin with?" (CNBC.com, 2/4).

MAKING A PLEDGE: VANOC Dir of Commercial Rights Management Bill Cooper noted that Canadian Olympic athletes "must sign an agreement with the Canadian Olympic Committee pledging not to breach this rule." Cooper noted that VANOC is "willing to grant exceptions for some athletes with long-standing relationships with a non-Olympic sponsors but the decisions are based on a review of whether the campaign could give viewers the wrong impression that an advertiser is linked" to the Games. As a result, Tim Hortons said that it will pull its latest ad featuring Penguins and Team Canada C Sidney Crosby "from the airways" until after the March 3 deadline. Tim Hortons Dir of Public Affairs David Morelli said that the company "has not faced any pressure from VANOC, but decided to bench Mr. Crosby during the Olympics 'out of respect for Sidney'" and VANOC (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/5).

Koss' Right To Play Not Allowed
To Set Up In Athletes Village
SKATE GUARDS: USA TODAY's Mike Dodd notes former Norwegian speedskater Johann Olav Koss' Right To Play humanitarian organization "won't be allowed to set up in the athletes village as it has in past Games because of conflicting sponsorships" with VANOC. Koss said, "I find it's unfair and it's unfortunate because we were using that space as a place to educate athletes about social goodness and the important role they can have in the world." Koss said RTP will "now be just outside the Olympic Village," where sponsor Mitsubishi will host the organization at one of its dealerships. RTP also will have a "pavilion near the Canada Hockey Place in downtown Vancouver" (USA TODAY, 2/5).

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