Tag Archives: Olympic Games

Protecting Your Brand With Common Sense

The Olympic Games are almost upon us. Like most major sporting organizations, the Olympic Committee and the US Olympic Committee protect their commercial marks aggressively. That intellectual property is a huge piece of the value they sell to official sponsors and keeping non-sponsors from doing ambush marketing is a big part of any sports organization’s daily life. It becomes front and center during marquee events. 

Companies find ways around this enforcement, of course. You’ve probably seen dozens of ads about “The Big Game” every January. You know they reference The Super Bowl even though it’s never said, don’t you. It’s a term the NFL tried to protect but was unable to.  The USOC and IOC are just as aggressive about terminology ranging from the obvious (Olympics, Games, Medal, Rio) to the less obvious (Effort, Performance, Challenge).

Today isn’t about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Having spent much of my career selling and protecting commercial sponsorships of sporting events, you can imagine where I come out on ambushing. I do, however, have a bone to pick from the other side of my career, which is digital. I think it’s instructive for all of us.

Social media is social. Sharable. A conversation. More importantly, social media has become how many people learn and stay in touch with what’s going on in the world. Not in the USOC’s eyes, apparently. They sent a letter out last week which reinforces all of the aforementioned commercial restrictions around the upcoming games, especially with respect to athletes who may be sponsored by non-USOC or Olympic sponsors. But the letter went further.

“Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts. This restriction includes the use of USOC’s trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.”

It doesn’t stop there. The same letter sent by the USOC reminds companies (except for those involved in news media) that they can’t reference any Olympic results or share or repost anything from the official Olympic account. I think that’s pretty far over the foul line. Social media by definition is meant to be circulated and almost any sponsor will mention “going viral” as one of their goals. How can you tweet or mention anything about the games without using a tag that’s discoverable? Why wouldn’t you want broader attention drawn to your event if it’s not otherwise a commercial message? Yes, I understand (better than most!) how sponsors try to share the brand equity of the event without authorization, but if all they’re doing is retweeting your own post, how are they sharing brand equity?

Protecting intellectual property is one of the most important things any brand or business can do. There are limits, however, and that protection should hardly ever interfere with common sense and the world of social sharing. You certainly don’t want to be seen as a bully. Do you agree with that?

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Filed under sports business, What's Going On

Getting Authenticated

I spent a good part of the weekend watching the Olympics (can I use that word without IOC permission?). Authentication FailNBC is wall to wall with them across all of their networks and it’s great. It’s truly the smorgasbord of sports – a grand buffet with a little something for everyone. Just in case you’re still hungry, NBC is also streaming everything to anyone who can prove they have a cable TV subscription. Seems fair – why have to pay for the same content a second time?

As an aside, that availability of this streaming has me confused about why people are complaining via social media about NBC’s TV coverage – what they choose to air  on which networks, etc.  You can be your own producer, and if you’re tech savvy enough to complain in the Twittersphere about it you’re probably savvy enough to figure out how to hook a computer up to a TV screen to watch the streaming as if it was TV.

I tried to get myself authenticated to do exactly that and found out that the weak link in the chain is actually the cable operator.  Well, specifically MY cable operator.  Every time I went through the process, which involves going to the NBCOlympics.com site and entering your cable user ID and password via your own provider’s site, I got a weird server message.  Not an error message as if I had the wrong information – a message you see in the graphic that’s indecipherable.  I finally emailed Cablevision support.  To their credit, they emailed me back within the hour that I was now authorized.  I wasn’t – same message when I went to sign in.  I used an online chat link they sent me to try to resolve it.  The very nice person (named Keith, coincidentally) let me know after a few minutes that he was a TV support guy and I needed to chat with the Internet guy.  Start a new chat.  Kevin (the new rep) asked if I had Cablevision’s internet service, which I don’t.  I reminded him that as long as I had TV I was supposed to be able to watch the streams.  He checked (5 minutes) and discovered I was right.  The issue turned out to be Chrome on a Mac – I was authorized instantly on a PC using Firefox.  Once I installed Flash into Safari, it worked on my Mac as well.  Strangely, it now works on Chrome too.

I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this as the pipe we use to access content becomes less important than the content itself.  I’m hoping the bumps will vanish and that rather than a great product such as this surfacing once every four years, we can use it every day.  What about you?  Have you tried the streaming?  What do you think?  Any issues getting it to work?

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Filed under sports business, Thinking Aloud