It seems that continuing to make the Olympic Sports, especially Track and Field, look like a joke has been the theme of the last few months. We’ve all followed Symmonds and many of his fellow athletes battles with the IAAF and USATF, but now we’re finally seeing the effect that these
fucking stupid unfair advertising rules have on a MUCH larger scale. A problem of Olympic proportions you might say.
But hey, look on the bright side, it’s not just America screwing it up this time.
Rule 40 (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH RULE 34 of the Internet) was developed by the Olympic Committee to
keep the small companies and athletes from profiting help prevent “ambush advertising” as well as helping to preserve the “amateurism” and “integrity” feel of the games.
First of all if you don’t think the Olympics are a completely commercialized event and really are just about friendly competition and athletic endeavors, wake the hell up.
The rule is set up to make sure the money stays in the hands of the big boys. Basically, only the major corporations who have spent MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars to be official sponsors of the games, are the only companies with any rights to advertise with the benefit of Olympic association.
Forbes did a really well put-together article here describing some of the odd restrictions these rules have:
The “Chips” ban and the ATM restrictions are my favorites in the article, copied and quoted from Forbes below (I gave you credit Forbes so I’m fairly sure this isn’t plagiarism)
- All 800 Olympic food retailers are banned from serving chips (French fries) during the Games in Britain—except for McDonald’s. A leaked memo reads, “Due to sponsorship obligations with McDonalds, LOCOG have instructed the catering team they are no longer allowed to serve chips on their own anywhere within the Olympic park. The only loophole to this is if it is served with fish.”
- ATMs at Olympic venues have been replaced by Visa ATMs, as part of an exclusivity deal. This means that those without Visa cards won’t be able take out cash.
That seems fair, right? So much for equal opportunities for local businesses.
The rule also prevents the actual athletes from appearing in advertising during the games. Ok yeah, this probably will not effect Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, or Lebron James at all, but what about the athletes who don’t make sickening amounts of money every year? More specifically the athletes whose biggest most important event is the Olympics and really probably the only real opportunity for the athletes to make a significant amount of money with the worldwide exposure.
In conjunction with athletes not being allowed to appear in non-official sponsor advertising, the athletes are also forbidden from doing any kind of advertising through social media. If an athlete wanted to send a shoutout to “EatRunSwag” (let’s imagine this blog is a real brand for a second) for helping them make it to the Olympics, this would be forbidden. (Feel free to thank me if you’d like though, Olympians, especially you Mr. Rupp ;) )
How do the athletes feel about this? Check this good collection of Twitter responses below:
Leo Manzano is particularly upset because the rule prevents him from doing something as simple as describing how much he likes his spikes. RIDICULOUS, HOW DARE HE!!!??
So if a non-major sponsor wouldn’t be able to use a sponsored athlete in any form of advertisement during the Olympics, why the hell would said sponsor have any reason/desire to sponsor the athlete? This just sets us even further back in the advertising fiasco. It’s not as if sponsors were jumping at every chance to sponsor track athletes before this rule, and now they’re pretty much being told that if they did sponsor the athletes, they really wouldn’t be able to profit at all from it and could face punishment should they try to. If I was one of those corporations, I guess I wouldn’t waste my time sponsoring the athletes either. This keeps the money with the major corporations as well as making sure it also stays out of the athletes hands.
Great job Olympic Committee, way to preserve the spirit of the Olympics.
The unofficial slogan goes: “The most important thing is not to win, but to take part!”, well we know who’s winning, and sadly, it’s not the athletes.