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SBD Global/August 20, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Michael Phelps' Leaked Ad Could Mean Trouble With IOC

Michael Phelps "might be in hot water" with the IOC after photos of him posing in a bathtub for part of a Louis Vuitton ad campaign were leaked on the Internet, according to Colleen Curry of ABC NEWS. For the campaign, Phelps was photographed in a bathing suit and goggles in a bathtub by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The photos were released "during a time when Olympic athletes" were banned from taking part in marketing campaigns as Rule 40 states. The rule prohibits athletes "from participating in advertising from July 18 to Aug. 15." Any athlete that breaks the rule can face sanctions, "including financial penalties and disqualification from Games, which can mean a loss of medals, as outlined in the Olympic Committee's guidebook" (ABC NEWS, 8/17). The AP's Paul Newberry wrote Phelps’ agent, Peter Carlisle, "dismissed any suggestion Friday that the retired swimmer may have violated IOC rules" when pictures for the campaign were leaked to the Internet during the London Games. Carlisle said that there is no issue with the IOC because Phelps did not authorize use of the pictures, which were leaked by a source that still isn’t known. Carlisle: “He didn’t violate Rule 40, it’s as simple as that. All that matters is whether the athlete permitted that use. That’s all he can control. In this case, Michael did not authorize that use. The images hadn’t even been reviewed, much less approved" (AP, 8/17).
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