The long-awaited arrival of those special 2 weeks of sporting events (hint: sounds like Olympia) begins on Friday.
Unfortunately, it also brings attention to the possibility of trouble you want to avoid with your social media.
Recently, the USOC sent letters to select non-sponsor companies warning them about stealing intellectual property and that businesses are violating trademark laws when even posting anything about it on their social media.
“Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts,” reads the letter by USOC CMO, Lisa Baird, shared by ESPN.com. “This restriction includes the use of USOC’s trademarks in hashtags.”
So if you are not the United Airlines or Coca-Cola’s of the world, and not an official sponsor of what I will call “The Event,” your practice is restricted from using any trademarked assets or direct references to it in your marketing and social media.
In addition to the famous five-ring logo (or modification), practices are restricted from using any of their trademarked words or phrases (or any variation thereof). This not only includes posting articles, promoting events using their likeness, and sharing promotional graphics, articles, news, photos, videos, etc., it also means no hashtags or retweets, as well.
Some of the trademarked words and phrases include...Oh, right, I guess I better not mention them here.
It even goes as far as not sharing anything from The Event’s official social media profiles, such as scheduled events and results. You also can’t feature participating athletes in your posts, even to wish them good luck!
Pretty crazy! It's the most publicized and anticipated international sporting event (that has already gotten a lot of negative press) and they don’t want you to talk about it. It’s kind of like the Zika virus of social media!
Of course this restriction is focused on the timeframe surrounding The Event and ends August 24.
Although this restriction is likely aimed primarily at big brand advertisers, the link to social media promotion and its usage makes even your practice visible to the USOC and any enforcement.
The bottom line is to just avoid it.
However, don’t let this spoil your enjoyment of The Event and support of your teams and athletes; just don’t use your business platforms to mention it. Go Team USA!!! (I can say that, right?)
~ Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing