Thursday 4 August 2016

Who can't tweet about #Rio2016


Trouble for Utilising Hashtag #Rio2016

Could one get into trouble for utilising the hashtag #Rio2016? It would possibly depend on who or what one could be. It could be used as much as possible in posts regarding a favourite athlete. However for companies it tends to be a different issue. The United States Olympic Committee had been accused of `intimidating’ firms which were not official sponsors, in preventing them from joining in the social media conversation regarding the forthcoming games.

Similar to any most important sporting event, the coordinators of the Olympic take a lot of precaution in protecting the right of corporate sponsors who tend to invest billion dollars for the game. Ahead of London 2012, those working on the opening and closing ceremonies had been briefly forbidden from buying chips since McDonalds had retained an exclusive sponsorship contract to be the solitary chip retailer in the park.

However, from then, a new regulation has enabled them to go much further in their quest of safeguarding the Olympic image. The first US applications to trademark hashtags were submitted in 2013 and though it is incredible in stopping ordinary people from talking about the event online utilising registered hashtags, it is now likely in restricting what companies may tend to do.

Prevent Ambush Marketing

Organisers of the Olympic tend to duly add hashtags to a list of trademarks which they had already secured with the use of Rio 2016 in order to endorse chemical products, egg incubators and varnishes. The Sports TV network ESPN has now reported that the USOC had sent letters out to many companies in advance of the Rio Olympics cautioning them that their online accounts should not place any Olympic results, share or re-tweet anything from the official Olympic account or even utilise official hashtags together with #Rio2016 as well as `#TeamUSA’.

 It is an effort in preventing the `ambush marketing’ wherein companies that have not paid for Olympic rights skilfully associate themselves with the games in trying to gain additional focus for their products. The same has been disapproved but since the hashtags seemed trademarked to be broad; there is a possibility of huge social media discussion regarding the events in Rio with several debating that companies are not advertising if they want to wish Team USA good luck.

USOC Excessively Forceful & Absurd

Professor of Law at Santa Clara University, Eric Goldman, is of the opinion that the USOC approach is excessively forceful and absurd. He had informed that he thinks that attempting to tell companies that they cannot use the hashtag #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA in their tweets, most of the time they are going far afield of what the law permits and when companies tend to use the ambiguities of trademark law in trying and squelching socially beneficial conversation, he calls that bullying.Several of the companies who had been under attack by the USOC state that they were being heavy handed.

 However, Sally Bergesen who tends to run the clothing company Oiselle had raised another issue. She had landed in trouble with the US Olympics Committee after posting an image of one of the runners they sponsor, when she was qualified for the Olympics. The issue was that the athlete had been wearing her running number which seemed to feature a tiny image of the Olympic rings. The outcome was that she received an email from the USOC stating that the post constituted Olympic advertising and the public would get the impression that the company was an official sponsor.

Long Term Sponsors of Individual Athletes Be Given Branding Rights

In her email, Sally stated that the email ordered Oiselle to eliminate the photo within 24 hours, though it seemed to remain there at the time of writing. Nonetheless the company had blacked out portion of other Olympic photos in its account. Sally had commented that her company and others like it had sponsored and supported athletes for the complete four year cycle when the attention had been marginal.

However, the money they had invested was not recognized by the Olympics when they had supported them in reaching their goal. She further stated that they estimated that it cost around $300,000 in order to get an athlete to the Olympics and the USOC contributed possibly 1% of the cost. So according to her they were more of Olympic sponsor than they were at that time.

They may have a beautiful stadium but if it was about beautiful stadiums and no athletes then many people would not have come and watched the event. She debates on long term sponsors of individual athletes to be given more branding rights and she has a surprising supporter, in the form of athletes themselves. Nick Symmonds is said to be a US middle distance runner and two time Olympian.

He had campaigned against the Olympic Rule 40 that also tends to restrict what sportsmen and women seem to post on social media at their time of limelight. The USOC had informed BBC that `corporate social channels which are not official Olympic partners need not engage in surprise attack advertising which is the reason that they have communicated to those companies. Rule 40 from the Olympic Charter is clear and US trademark law is as well’.

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