Excited about that event in South America

You know, that event that happens every four years, where teams come from around the world to take part in athletic activities? The one happening in a famous beach city in Brazil?


Most of us know them as the 2016 Summer Olympics. But according to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Rule 40, we have to be careful what we call it.

Rule 40 is a part of the Olympic Charter that controls how an athlete’s likeness is used for promotions during the event. According to Sports Illustrated, “Rule 40 was established to ‘to preserve the unique nature of the Olympic games by preventing over-commercialization’ and to protect Olympic sponsors, who spend millions of dollars for exclusive marketing rights during the Olympics.”

It prevents what the IOC defines as ambush marketing, or attempts by non-sponsoring companies to use the games to promote itself using certain key terms, like 16 Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Medal, Challenge, Games or Victory.

It puts brands such as Under Armor, New Balance and Oiselle on notice. All three have long-standing sponsorship relationships with well-known athletes competing in the games. The guidelines have loosened in recent years, but it still leaves athletes watching their language online.

Companies are watching their language, too. The United States Olympic Committee has warned non-sponsors to avoid using trademarked terms in hashtags. That means no #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.

You can learn more about Athlete Marketing Guidelines for Team USA on their website. Or you can join in the protests with a generic running shirt of your own.

Just be careful what you tweet.

About the author:
Tara Saylor is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.