Relaxed Rule 40 will allow greater opportunities for Tokyo support
Relaxed Rule 40 will give athletes greater opportunities to support Tokyo Games
Remember Ryan lochte “Yeah!” London 2012 Olympics sunglasses?
the plastic lampshades, marked at $ 14.95 a pop and nowhere else, sported a phrasing which the swimmer adapted from Young Jeezy’s celebratory exclamation “Cheah!” Reezy liked the word so much that he tried to tag it, running into Compton MC rapper Eiht, who claimed to have used it first.
But the most significant story here is that Lochte filed for the (eventually abandoned) federal patent on August 1, right in the middle of his third Olympics, where he won two gold, two silver and one bronze. He asked with a vision to put the word everywhere on products he would not be allowed to sell until the end of a blackout period imposed by something called IOC Rule 40.
Whether he knew it or not, his ways of grilling, biting medals and jeah-ing established his own brand personality beyond his sponsorship relationships, helping him get the most out of it. of Rule 40, an eligibility rule of the Olympic Charter which until 2019, advertisements related to the Olympic Games banned by unofficial sponsors from nine days before to three days after the Olympic Games. In Lochte’s case, the wait time actually generated more buzz for its promised products; for most other Olympians this is only a limitation.
Previously, IOC Rule 40 stated that during Games time Olympians were not allowed to name or endorse companies that were not official Olympic sponsors. Even outside of this window, non-sponsors of the United States were required to submit advertisements attempting to reference athletes’ participation in the Olympics to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) for approval prior to their broadcast.
The first time the International Olympic Committee (IOC) governing the Olympic Movement decided to regulate the advertising activities of competitors was in 1962. At the time, athletes could not receive payment for the use of their name or their image on TV or radio if they wanted to be at the Olympics. As an event founded on independence from religious, political and commercial influences, the Games required participants to maintain amateur status.
In 1991, the IOC created Rule 40 to protect the intellectual property (eg, logos, images, slogans, music) of the Olympic Games and to assert the exclusivity of its official sponsors. The fear was that without this protection the ambush marketers could straddle Olympic fame without supporting them financially and hijack the business of the sponsors who did. At the time, there was no doubt that corporate sponsorships financed most of the expenses of the Games.
The rule began to visibly disillusion a critical mass of athletes just as Reezy was plotting his yeahmpire of clothes and accessories. Not to be outdone, the most decorated Michael phelps had a fear the same summer when Twitter leaked Annie leibovitz photographs of him posing for Louis Vuitton. This rule 40 violation sparked discussions about whether he would lose the medals he had just won.
On the ground, the track runners of the American team Nick symmonds and Sanya Richards-Ross began running the #WeDemandChange and # Rule40 hashtags during the London Games to draw attention to the unfairness of the limitations. Athletes and personal sponsors have also found ways to hack the system, promoting each other without naming names.
In one Twitter message of August 8, Symmonds appeared in front of a shrub pruned from a Nike running shoe, with the brand’s revealing swoosh, touting his personal sponsor in other than name. His fight went further and further than these moments. He was denied access to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics due to another fight over sponsorship settlement and filed an antitrust lawsuit vs. USA Track and Field and USOC as CEO of his own brand Run Gum. A judge quickly dismissed the case, saying the defendants enjoyed immunity through the 1978 Law on Amateur Sport.
But that authority began to crumble, and there were two main reasons for this.
First, even the internet, let alone social media, did not exist when Rule 40 came into effect. The London Olympics were the first Games after the invention of Instagram. And although Twitter was there for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the rise of hashtag culture didn’t really begin until 2012. The extension of Rule 40 to the realm of personal athlete accounts, where so many publicity and amplification are happening now, has created an ugly juxtaposition between the old IOC decrees against the privacy and freedom of expression of athletes. And the world could see and share the shock.
Second, the concept of the amateur Olympic athlete became moot a long time ago. The livelihoods of modern athletes depend on sponsorship opportunities. The rule 40 blackout, though touted in part as a move to keep the focus on athletics rather than commercialism, has started to look more and more penalizing for top competitors. marketing during the Games. This was especially the case for the lesser-known Olympians whose 16 days of half-fame presented a unique chance to attract support.
Without sponsorship, U.S. Olympic swimmers earn on average $ 10,000 to $ 30,000 for their participation. And being in the world’s most-watched Olympic event doesn’t change the fact that only the top medalists win $ 1 million in sponsorships, versus multi-million showers for football and basketball players.
The IOC felt the warmth of the athletes in 2012 and decided to allow “generic advertising” by unofficial sponsors at future Games. But the sports law community considered the USOC guidelines for the Rio 2016 Olympics ”an affront to the rights of athletes. “
The USOC document went so far as to state the words considered exclusive and therefore prohibited to unofficial sponsors – “2016”, “summer”, “Rio”, “gold”, “silver” and “bronze” made it. part. . The social media guidelines went further than those set in 2012, warning that posts on sites like Instagram and Twitter must “conform to the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship and must not be undertaken. for demonstration purposes ”. It smacked of the IOC’s currently controversial Rule 50 banning Olympian events – it was injected into another rule that already raised free speech concerns. Meanwhile, Illegal drug traffickers on the streets of Rio sold bags of cocaine printed with the Olympic rings – the characteristic intellectual property of the Games – with impunity.
One of the USOC’s justifications was to “preserve the sources of funding, because 90 percent of the income generated by the IOC is distributed to the sports movement at large.” This means that $ 3.25 million per day is spent on the development of athletes and sports organizations at all levels around the world. This suggested that the USOC already felt that athletes were paid enough and preferred to limit unofficial opportunities for individuals rather than risk upsetting stakeholders by bringing in billions of dollars to an event that took the same.
In February 2019, the German Cartel Office (GCO), Germany’s national competition regulator, led the charge from the top down and declared Rule 40 anti-competitive against non-sponsors and limited to athletes who could otherwise benefit from promotional benefits and advertising activities before and during the Games.
After the GCO eliminated the blackout period for German athletes, the IOC Executive Board extended the power to interpret and apply Article 40 to national committees. On October 8, 2019, the USOC followed suit with new IOC Rule 40 guidelines, making its approach to the rule more flexible than in 2016.
Before, during and after the upcoming Tokyo Games, US Olympians will be able to appear in advertisements and congratulatory messages from personal sponsors. They will also be able to hire new personal sponsors and continue financial and creative negotiations during what was once a blackout period. For the first time, athletes will be able to shout at their personal sponsors during the Games. Social media posts will not carry such an imminent threat of sanctions ranging from stripped medals to fines to disqualification.
Personal Sponsors will still need to register for Rule 40 authorization prior to commercialization and comply with an entirely different set of rules outlined in a Personal Sponsorship Undertaking (PSC). Each athlete on the American team will be entitled to seven thank-you messages and no more. Personal sponsors still won’t be able to say anything about whether their athletes are on Team America or the Olympics beyond their brief congratulations.
People eagerly awaiting the Olympics would do well to spy on the changes in the daytime commercial break pitch that the Games involve. Where athletes choose to send their seven thank you messages during the rule 40 period July 13 through August 10 and what they do when that quota runs out will be interesting. Personal accounts of athletes on social media, where Rule 40 and Rule 50 challenges can converge and even synergize, could create an arena as entertaining and meaningful as the sporting events themselves.