Making the Most of the Rio 2016 Olympics

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Zeno Group will be sharing a series of blog posts around the 2016 Olympic Games. Here is the first one by Robert Ricci, Executive Vice President and U.S. Head of Digital. 

Armed with strategies designed to deploy planned and, if they’re lucky, real-time content, marketers across the globe are mobilizing in celebration of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Everyone seems to want in on the Olympics conversation, but for brands who aren’t official sponsors, participating could prove difficult.

Because “the success of the Games chiefly depends on the support of commercial partners,” the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has taken a strong stance to protect its intellectual property, warning parties with no association to steer clear. Per theirRio 2016 Brand Protection Guidelines(which the IOC themselves describe as “not exhaustive”), the use of trademarks, Olympic characters, footage, images, fonts, symbols, event icons, and other elements bearing the Olympic “look and feel” is extremely limited, even for those who paid for the privilege.

These same rules apply to competing athletes, too, and in their case, extend to include the commercial use of images that feature them and their coaches, trainers, and officials.

So what’s a brand to do?

Based on common interpretation, brands who engage in generic chatter about “athletes,” “games,” or showing support for their team or country, should be safe from the IOC’s watchdogs. Partnering with media properties (who, by comparison, can operate rather freely) is also an option. The trick will lie in how these brand mentions tie to events that capture the hearts and minds of audiences in a hyper-relevant way. Relying on an agile content framework that, as Twitter suggests, entertains, inspires, and provides useful information, is – for now – a best practice; so, too, is creativity.

Now, let those games begin!

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