Citius. Altius. Fortius. This is the motto of the Olympic Games: Faster. Higher. Stronger. But they might want to add a short subclause: All speed, height and strength is owned by the Olympics Committee and its official sponsors. No one else is allowed to join in.
The US Olympic Committee (USOC) has sent strongly worded intellectual property warnings to all organisations that sponsor athletes going to the Rio games but don't have a sponsorship designation with the Olympic Committee.
"Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts," reads the letter written by USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird, obtained by ESPN. "This restriction includes the use of USOC's trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA."
So, if brand A sponsors athlete B, and A posts a Tweet about B congratulating them on finishing second in their heat, urging them to "Go for the Gold", the USOC can sue them.
Olympic-related terms the non-media brands aren't allowed to mention include:
- Go for the Gold
- Any Olympic results
- Pictures taken at the Olympics
- Reposts or shares from any official Olympics group
"We need to give sponsors exclusivity to our intellectual property that is protected by US law," Baird said.
In the eyes of the USOC, brands that have paid for sponsorship deals with the Olympics deserve all the glory associated with such a sponsorship. Similarly, athletes shouldn't use the games as a platform to promote the brands that might sponsor them.
"Athletes can certainly generically say, 'Thank you for your support' during the Games," Baird said. "But a company that sells a sports drink certainly can't post something from the Games on their social media page or website. They're doing nothing but using the Olympics to sell their drink. That's entirely different from what say, ESPN is doing, which is clearly defined as journalism."
You've been warned, non-Olympics brands. Don't you dare go joining in with the Olympic party.