Olympic Athletes Displeased With The Start Of Marketing Moratorium
British athletes "rushed to endorse their sponsors" before Wednesday's blanket ban on personal branding during the Games, according to Tom Harper of the London EVENING STANDARD. Potential stars tweeted their "thanks" to companies who funded their training before the "strict guidelines to protect official Olympic 'partners' came into force." A number of swimmers and sailors, including gold medal candidate Keri-Anne Payne, have "quietly draw attention to their backers" over the last couple days (EVENING STANDARD, 7/18). The WASHINGTON POST's Barry Svrluga reported that the USOC, in conjunction with the IOC, began "a moratorium on athletes marketing themselves through companies that aren’t official Olympic sponsors.” The moratorium “holds through Aug. 15, three days after” the London Games conclude. USOC CMO Lisa Baird said, “Ambush marketing seems to be an issue that continues to rear its head in every Games. There are ambush marketers out there that want to imply an association with the Olympics. They’ll take terminology; imagery, and they will get very close or crossing the line to really imply that they are a sponsor. That hurts us.” But several athletes and their reps “believe the athletes suffer more.” Agent Erika Wright, who represents U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, called the restrictions “absolutely terrible.” The rules have “been in place for decades, but they have been increasingly contentious as more athletes try to build their individual brands around their Olympic performances.” This “applies to someone like” eight-time Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, but it also “affects lesser-known Olympians.” Wright also represents U.S. swimmer Conor Dwyer, who will make his first Olympic appearance in London. Wright has “wanted to help him sell shirts” that say, “Go Dwyer” or “Team Dwyer” during the Games. The USOC said no. Wright: “The underlying premise behind the rules, there is a good purpose to it. But in application they carry it too far. They scare the athletes to death.” Svrluga notes the pamphlet distributed to athletes says Olympians are “encouraged” to use Twitter and blogs to document their experiences. But the pamphlet continues to say the athletes “are not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/18).