Olympic Sized Social Media Meddling

Big story today about Olympic athletes being limited in what they can electronically broadcast during the course of these 2012 Summer Olympics.  Morals clause or trademark issues? You decide.

Let’s look at the guidelines.  Here’s the link.  http://tinyurl.com/3ufl9sn

Like any other contract the athletes must adhere to certain conduct and intellectual property guidelines; these are pretty standard today.  Don’t have public tantrums about rankings etc, don’t post pics of yourselves drunk celebrating the win etc.  The basic common sense rules of reputation enhancing social networking conduct.

However it’s almost like the guidelines are really a giant non-compete clause to the disadvantage of the athletes.  While I understand the idea of intellectual property law regarding logos, affiliations and partnerships, I just can’t see where a positive post containing logos, sponsors, and reflection on the day’s events would do anything but draw attention to events that are largely government sponsored.  Social media efforts are about generating revenue as well as visibility.

Shall we discuss an athlete’s brand?  There’s the website with all their achievements and media coverage and statistics and rankings and photo galleries.  Then we have the Facebook fan pages and Twitter and Pinterest.  Sponsors want athletes with great stories and good public image.

Athletes have a limited visibility window while they are in their qualifying rounds leading to their place on Olympic teams in which they can create some buzz, get some great sponsorship and maintain some continuity of image to promote their sport.  The rest of the time few know their names while their heads are down and they are deep in training.

The weird one for me is that they can’t hang out with their sponsors publically online or it’s seen as promotion or selling.  Um hello did we all forget what sponsorship is and why the athletes need it?  There is a certain amount of reciprocal publicity assumed in a sponsorship deal.   The take away for sponsors is purely a visibility issue.  Shouldn’t the sponsored athlete be lauding the efforts of the people that got them where they are today?  Without the sponsors there are no Olympics for most athletes.  It’s not just me right?

We must first remember that Olympic Athletes fall under the “amateur” category and they compete and comply to enter the Olympics.  It’s not like they rely on sponsorship to avoid living well under the poverty level in Canada after all.  It’s not like the government has consistently removed funding over the years so that Canadian Athletes are forced to train and compete elsewhere.  And it’s certainly not like private sector sponsorship should be picking up the slack where the government leaves off in order for us to maintain some respect in the global market.

Photos:  “otherwise distribute”.  Hmmmm are we against the positive impact on an athlete’s career if their photos go viral?  For goodness sake there are empty seats at some of the Olympic events thus far!


This entry was posted in Communications, Media Impact, Really?, Social Media, The Charitable Struggle, What People are Saying and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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