The showdown at this years Olympics is not purely between athletes in search of medals. It is between Nike and Adidas for the crown of king of the sports brands.
Nike have recently announced some of their guerilla tactics for the upcoming event in an attempt to flout and test the Olympic committees advertising and sponsorship regulations.
Nike have a history of doing so in many previous events and have even caused hassle for some of their sponsored athletes with Wayne Rooney’s recent Twitter activity causing the first "UK Twitter ad campaign ban" to be enforced.
With this in mind it is important to consider one significant point.
Many athletes are sponsored by a particular brand (the brand pays a substantial amount of money for this and in return receives exposure and promotion), however during an event such as the Olympics a competitor brand can buy the “official” sponsorship of the event (creating a conflict between the athlete and their sponsor)
Questions which then arise are:
1) Does the athlete sponsor have to subdue marketing during the event time period (Despite having an existing contract and having paid their athletes)
2) If a Team GB (Adidas) athlete has an existing sponsorship contract with Nike (or other brand) what would they do for their apparel outside of the event?
3) Can the Event sponsor overrule individual sponsors during this time period?
And so on and so forth. Ultimately it is a very complex situation but it is one which needs to be looked at and resolved.
The problem continues way down the line as well, Seb Coe has recently stated strict policy on what is/is not allowed by spectators at events. No wearing rival sponsor apparel, though “Nike trainers would ‘probably’ be allowed through security despite not making the list of accredited brands.”
The list of restricted items includes (but is not limited to):
- Balls, rackets, frisbees
- Large flags and banners
- Clothing with political statements or commercial signage
- Oversized hats
- Large golf-style umbrellas
- Long-lens cameras and tripods
- Excessive amounts of food
- Liquids greater than 100ml
And the simple reason for this is that to obtain the £700 million worth of sponsor investment the Olympic Committee has obtained they have had to offer an awful lot (including outright exclusivity) to sponsors (which they may struggle to deliver)
Is this exclusivity at the cost of the audience? An audience which will be restricted to wearing particular items of clothing, not to take flags to a “World event”, not make political statements with clothing and take less than 100ml of fluids (despite the country currently having a heatwave).
Only time will tell if these steps actually reduce guerilla marketing or if they simply create hassle and inconvenience for the consumers, who in reality should be the main focus of activities.