Olympics: Ambush Advertisers Not Necessarily The Problem

The fog clears and black trees appear on the mountain at the Whistler Creekside Alpine skiing venue of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Fabrice Coffrini | Getty Images
The fog clears and black trees appear on the mountain at the Whistler Creekside Alpine skiing venue of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Another day and another note from the USOC.

This time it's from Senator Orrin Hatch talking about "unfair and unauthorized marketing of the Olympic Games."

Why is there more complaining than ever before?

It's actually pretty simple.

Official partners aren't doing enough to drown out those who don't have rights to the games.

Subway spent tons of money on Michael Phelps swimming to Vancouver so that some people don't realize that it's McDonald's that has the official deal.

And Coca-Cola virtually has to scream that it's the official sponsor.

Why?

Because Red Bull was smart enough to sign the two most marketable stars of the games in Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White. The Red Bull logo is squarely on Vonn's hat in every single picture and the energy drink got significant exposure by building White his own super halfpipe that was shown in all its glory on "60 Minutes."

Taco Bell is the official sponsor of the NBA, yet the league doesn't tell Dwight Howard and LeBron James that they can't shoot a Super Bowl commercial for McDonald's.

On the other hand, the IOC and USOC has rules in place that ensure that Olympians can't endorse non-sponsors during the games. That's a pretty big leg up for those sponsors. That provision doesn't exist anywhere else. But that also doesn't mean that official sponsors don't have to be at the top of their game. They still need to sign the relevant athletes and they still need to have the best commercials.

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