Official Olympic sponsor, Australian airline Ansett, has instituted Federal Court proceedings against rival flag carrier Qantas to prevent it from associating itself with the Olympic Games.

Ansett lawyers allege that Qantas indulged in illegal ‘ambush marketing’ tactics with its recent ads in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age, giving a false impression that Qantas is a Games sponsor.

One ad, appearing in a souvenir guide to the event, depicts Australian team member Cathy Freeman alongside a reference to the Games and the Qantas logo. The “close proximity” of the logo, argues Ansett, breaches the Sydney 2000 Games Indicia & Images Act introduced specifically to protect Olympic sponsors from ambush marketing. A disclaimer published elsewhere in the newspaper stating that Qantas is not an Olympic sponsor was "hardly sufficient" to remove that impression from readers' minds, claims Ansett.

But Qantas deputy-ceo Geoff Dixon defends the carrier’s "right to promote itself," maintaining that it has enjoyed a long association with sports and Olympic athletes in Australia. "We had this marketing strategy before Australia was even given the Olympics," says Dixon.

Qantas has already signed-up to a $7 million Olympic advertising package from the Seven Network – although “we don't even mention the Olympics in the commercials," Dixon insists. But its new blockbuster commercial using Games’ theme song, I Still Call Australia Home, will be aired during the event.

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily