Get a demo Do I subscribe? News sign-up
Print

Lawyers warn of Olympic ambushes

News, 09 August 2016

SYDNEY: Experts in media law have warned Australian brands against legally-fraught "ambush marketing" during the 2016 Olympic Games, as marketers try to capitalise on the world's biggest sports event.

With broadcast rights-holders hoping to rake in billions of adspend during the Olympics, and with TV presence so expensive during primetime, it's little surprise some brands in Australia are looking for alternative ways to promote themselves.

But Australian legal experts are warning strongly against challenging the regulations during the event with ambush marketing, which may do more harm than good for the brands concerned.

(For more on the strict legal requirements governing Australian brands with regards to marketing during the Olympic Games, read Warc's exclusive report: How Australia's marketers can navigate the Olympics.)

In addition to the existing Australian Consumer Law, the Olympic Insignia Protection Act also comes into play with advertising related to the sporting event, which regulates the commercial use of Olympic expressions in Australia.

Usage of the words "faster", "higher", "stronger" and the iconic five-ring symbol are also governed by the Act and, in order to use any of these terms or images, a sponsorship agreement or licence is required.

"Whilst most ambush marketers only need to worry about the Australian Consumer Law, when you are playing in the space of the Olympics you need to be worried about this particular Act," said Stephen von Muenster, an Australian advertising, marketing, and media law expert.

However, the Australian Federal Court recently surprised many when it ruled in favour of Telstra, the telecoms and media company, which had been embroiled in a high-profile court case against the Australian Olympic Committee for promoting its Olympic links.

The ruling allowed the company to continue to promote its partnership with the Seven Network, the official rights-holding broadcaster in Australia.

"It may open the floodgates for ambushers to get out there and be a bit more bold," said von Muenster of the ruling.

Data sourced from Warc