- Taking advantage of real-time events such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars is a social media tradition, but brands that aren’t official sponsors of the Olympic Games are now in a blackout period on social media that began last Wednesday and runs through August 24, according to Adweek.
- Official sponsors such as Coke, McDonald’s, Visa and P&G are the only brands that can post Olympic-themed content to social media, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee. All other brands will get letters saying that they are violating the Olympics’ intellectual property.
- Violations will fall under Code Chapter 2205, making them federal offense, according to the USOC.
Brands are used to leveraging major sporting events like the Olympics on social media to help raise brand awareness and gain customers, but the USOC's warning means brands and agencies should be should be wary and think twice about any social media posts related to the Olympics. The Olympic Games aggressively protect their trademarks worldwide, and simply using Olympic hashtags and retweets could land marketers in hot water for the next several weeks, according to the USOC.
The group told marketers: "Do not create social media posts that are Olympic themed, that feature Olympic trademarks, that contain Games imagery or congratulate Olympic performance unless you are an official sponsor as specified in the Social Media Section."
Adweek listed a multitude of keywords and actions that are prohibited, ranging from using words like “Olympic” and “Team USA” to featuring Olympic athletes in social media posts.
"Several of our clients are interested in considering other ways to leverage the buzz that the games are going to have over the next three weeks," Shawn McBride, evp and the head of the sports practice at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment, told Adweek. "We've counseled them to be very judicious in what they do and to err on the side of caution when it comes to any of those key terms. The official hashtags are avoided easily enough."