Social buzz may fizzle for Rio

How social teams must be more vigilant in 2016

With the Olympics underway, brands are sure to put social through its paces to piggyback the robust coverage. But, marketers beware – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) won’t stand for your rampant GIFs, Vines, streaming apps, hashtags, or trademarked words!

The good news – updates to the Olympics’ Rule 40 means even non-sponsors can feature athletes in generic advertising that doesn’t explicitly mention the games or use any Olympic intellectual property. The bad news – navigating the new rules may be as challenging as taking down Michael Jordan’s Dream Team of the early 90s.

Here’s a sample of the IOC’s many prohibited words and phrases for the games:

  • Olympic
  • Olympian
  • Team USA
  • Future Olympian
  • Gateway to gold
  • Go for the gold
  • Let the games begin

Looking to use a hashtag? Don’t you dare put the pound sign (#) in front of TeamUSA or Rio2016!


What about the lowly gif, or a livestream of a big event? Nope, according to the IOC, “video taken in the Village or at a venue is to be taken by accredited media and used within the broadcast rules, or else kept for personal purposes only.”

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The takeaway – there will be plenty of opportunity during the next two weeks for brands to capitalize on the hysteria that is the Olympics,  but to do so, they must tread lightly. Social teams: check posts 10 times over, then check again. The IOC is watching, and skirting the rules like our friend Stephen Colbert just to capture a few more eyeballs won’t bring home the gold.

“Let the games begin.”

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