How Snowboarders Are Waving Company Logos In The IOC's Face... And There's Nothing It Can Do About It

from the the-corporate-promotion-that-got-away dept

The International Olympics Committee has this "branding" thing down cold. (No pun intended. The IOC is just as obnoxious during the Summer Olympics.) Everything that doesn't belong to an Official Sponsor has its logo covered (including bathroom fixtures!) until the multi-ring circus of sports (and quasi-sports) folds up the last multimillion dollar tent and blows town.

The IOC is the ultimate control freak. This maniacal desire to cleanse the Games of anything not directly related to its corporate sponsors often results in the sort of behavior you'd normally associate with severe misanthropy. Hobbyist knitters get slapped with C&Ds. A 30-year-old restaurant is forced to change its name. A prominent news outlet has to build its own internal Starbucks in order to escape drinking nothing but the Official Coffee of the Olympics, which is crafted each day to the searing hot specifications of hallowed coffee mecca… McDonalds.

Each and every form of IP protection has been abused by the IOC. Bogus takedown notices/C&Ds are as much a part of the Olympic heritage as lighting the torch or channel-surfing during the figure skating events. The IOC's rules even provide strict regulations for wearing the logos of the official sponsors, not to mention the sponsors who actually footed the bill so these athletes could take part in the Games.

But, as the New York Times points out, even a finely-tuned branding machine like the IOC can be defeated with a little creativity.

The International Olympic Committee, leery of spoiling the canvas, has a 33-page book filled with detailed restrictions on logos. It dictates the size and placement of them on everything from team uniforms at the opening ceremony to the emblems on a skier's gloves and the stickers on a bobsledder's helmet. Observers might go the entire Olympics and not notice them.

At least until the snowboarders and skiers go airborne.

The bottom of them may be the most prominent billboards at the Winter Games, a bit of a twist of guerrilla marketing. When someone such as the snowboarder Shaun White flies through the air, cameras often catch the underside of his board, on which Burton, the name of its manufacturer, is spread in large, bold letters. Those images flash across television screens and are published around the world.
Eight of the 12 finalists in the men's halfpipe competition rode Burton boards. All of them went upside down.
The board makers claim this isn't intentional and, indeed, it probably isn't. But what a fortuitous coincidence. Snowboards have normally featured artwork and company logos on the bottom of the board and with riders more technically adept than ever, the chances of a company's airborne logo being splashed across the screen continue to increase.

What can the IOC do about this? Nothing really, unless it wants to rewrite the rulebook. As the New York Times points out, competition snowboards are roughly identical to the ones sold to the public. This makes the company-centric artwork part of the equipment itself, rather than something added especially for Olympic competitors, which would run afoul of the guidelines.
"The identification of the manufacturer may be carried as generally used on products sold through the retail trade during the period of 12 months prior to the Games," the rules read.
So, if Burton makes a board with Burton written across the bottom of it during the preceding year, and a competitor splashes Burton all over during his or her run, there's not much the IOC can do, other than perhaps stare sadly at all of the toilets with covered-up logos and compose takedown letters for crocheting enthusiasts halfway around the world.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    and who can you blame for allowing the IOC to get away with all the fucking bullshit stunts they pull? us! you and me! we let them get away with it because we have voted into office people who swore an oath to protect the people, after the Constitution, and what do they do? they bend over, grab ankles and let the IOC fuck them stupid (if that's indeed possible!), giving in to their every claim rather than having some balls and telling them to go screw themselves!! if it were an ordinary member of the public pulling these stunts, they wouldn't just be told to 'take a hike', you can almost guarantee they would be locked up, even if there was no real charge!

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    I never watch the Olympics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    rycho (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    Re:

    You forgot to mention the reach-around they get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:02pm

    I tried. But I just can't care. None of it is about sport, just money and posing.

     

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  5.  
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    St. Pat, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

    What can they do?

    >"What can the IOC do about this? Nothing really, unless it wants to rewrite the rulebook."

    You're not familiar with the term "obvious rule patch," are you? They'd just need to add one statement saying "No unapproved logos on the bottoms of boards."

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ObviousRulePatch

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Why an article about something allowed by IOC rules? Unless the IOC is complaining about these boards, then it seems this is not a news story but merely musings.

     

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  7.  
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    tracker1 (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Says you...

    I avoid watching the Olympics, as well as not buying from "sponsor" companies while the Olympics is going on... if there is an IOC logo on it... no sale. I'm a little less militant about it when the Olympics aren't in session.

     

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  8.  
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    scotts13 (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:30pm

    Olym-pics?

    That's that sports thing that messes up TV schedules, right? Is it time again already?

     

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  9.  
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    bubba, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    And yet the IOC is fine with this image

     

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  10.  
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    zip, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    It looks like the tobacco companies missed out on an advertising goldmine by not buying up these sporting-goods companies.

     

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  11.  
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    the truth, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    all seeing eye....

    Shaun white had Lucifer's all seeing eye at the bottom of his board..... Just saying!

     

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  12.  
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    Daemon_ZOGG, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 6:41pm

    "Each and every form of IP protection has been abused by the IOC"

    It's the reason why I don't watch the Summer or Winter olympics anymore. Not for the last 20 years. I really have a passionate hatred for the ioc. They are the scurge of every region of the world they flock to. They're a disease to local business and community organizations.

     

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  13.  
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    Fred, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

    Yeah but the IOC is shameless...

    The IOC will have zero hesitation in making whatever arbitrary rule change they feel like making. Fairness, justice and consistency are not a factor.

    So, by the next Olympics you will see nothing but blank boards. Count on it...

     

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  14.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 7:50pm

    So basically, Burton could charge other companies sponsorship fees to PepsiCo, Crapple, and other non-official companies for the Winter Olympics and the year prior, and there's nothing the IOC can do about it? Fight, fight, fight!

     

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  15.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 3:02am

    Re:

    That would be amusing! I despise the IOC and the games as a whole (although I do believe the athletes are giving their blood there and that kind of makes me sad to see IOC being an enormous pile of rotten shit) and such disruptions are very welcome.

     

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  16.  
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    crade (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:24am

    Who is Shaun White?

     

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  17.  
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    nasch (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    Who is Shaun White?

    A video game character, I think.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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