Nike vs. the Brand Police

I think this is pretty awesome.

Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign is the epitome of tongue-in-cheek, and a clear bit of ambush marketing that doesn’t quite break the rules. Needless to say, the LOCOG brand police and official sponsor Adidas can’t be pleased.

The IOC has a whole horde of rules in place to protect its TOP sponsors – including strict limitations on what brands can say, what sorts of images they can use, and where they can market. Nevertheless, competing brands – like Nike – and other non-official sponsors, try their best to skirt the rules.

London magazine, “The Drum,” got (comically) into the action by sponsoring a “Faux-Lympics” competition, asking agencies to present their best parody ads.

London agency, de Winter, put together this gem for Tourettes Action – click through to see some of the best:

While these paraody ads are obviously not real and do not represent examples of true ambush marketing, they offer a similarly tongue-in-cheek dig at the IOC and its brand police.

The rules they so hardily enforce do little to help TOP sponsors. Forbes reported the results of a Response Now survey, which indicate a number of negatives regarding the impact the Olympics has on sponsors and consumers, and the role of digital media.

Here are some highlights:

– 60% of Americans believe Nike to be an official sponsor. As I mentioned above, the official sponsor is in fact Adidas.

– The statement “I don’t understand why this company is an Olympic sponsor,” is most applied to McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

– 49% of all French respondents indicated that Evian is a sponsor, while 21% of British respondents indicated that Red Bull is a sponsor. Furthermore, despite not having anything to do with sports, major brands such as Microsoft and Google are falsely seen in the eyes of Brits (14% surveyed) as sponsors.

So therein lies the problem. Are the brand police doing enough? Or are they merely a futile attempt at assuaging the concerns of TOP sponsors who spend in the neighborhood of $100 million to partner with the games?

Regardless – I applaud the ambush marketers and the faux-lympic ad-makers for their creative and entertaining ways around the IOC’s law enforcement.


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