The Rio 2016 Olympics saw a huge change in the way marketing is practiced at the prestigious sporting event.

For the first time since the inception of the games, advertising was allowed to extend beyond official sponsors, opening a gateway for businesses on a global scale to become part of the event for the very first time.

The Olympics is not an event to be taken lightly, defined by a global market reaching on average 28.7 million people per night at this year’s Rio games - and we’re going to look at how the rules have changed this year, as well as marketing controversies that hit during the event. And then finally, we’re also going to look at who made a splash in marketing at Rio - and what can be learn from their stellar efforts.

Did you know: It costs 200 million dollars to be an Olympic Global Partner?


Rule 40 and Changes to the Olympic Marketing Rules

Hockey on the pitch.

The decision to extend beyond official sponsors was brought in by the Official Olympic Committee. This lead to the abolishment of Rule 40, the previous legislation in place by the committee to stop this from occurring. Rio was the first time this ban was lifted - leading to the ultimate shift in the way Olympic marketing was actually run.

But what did Rule 40 Limit?  

According to Adweek, athletes were unable to tweet about non-official sponsors, ‘and non-sponsors were not allowed to feature Olympic athletes that had sponsorship deals within ad’, and all this took place during the period of the games.

This lead to a very limited capability for sponsorship during the Olympics - unless a business was willing to pay the 200 million dollar fee - of course!  

However, despite the fact that Rule 40 has been altered and Olympic marketing has been opened up to the masses, there was still a large set of rules in place around how the advertising could actually be conducted at Rio.

All businesses hoping to advertise with athletes during the Olympics had to submit waivers detailing exactly what they had planned to the Olympic committee. As well as this, Running Competitor reported that certain words were banned from the advertising efforts including: ‘Olympics, Rio, rings, summer, games, gold, or medal. And the phrase “Road to Rio”’ - applying a complex set of rules to an already intense and complicated sector of marketing.

Because the Rio Olympics were the first games with a more relaxed Rule 40, it will be interesting to see how this affects the Tokyo games of 2020. By then, marketers will have a better grasp on what is and isn’t allowed during official games time - making for a much more competitive advertising market.

But Rule 40 wasn’t the only change at Rio. Branding on team kits also came across a change. Approved badge sizes grew from 20 square centimetres to 30 according to CNN Money, and brands were also allowed to include a small second label on kits, too.

This is something sponsors would have been aware of whilst designing the Rio kits, but it shows a definitive shift to a more marketable Olympic games. It will certainly be intriguing to see whether this relaxes even more when the athletes take to their games in Tokyo - and the effects this will have on brands worldwide.

Olympic marketing in general requires a reactive response to marketing. No one knows who is going to win or where the big news might arise, providing a need for businesses to be flexible with their marketing efforts. That’s where Brandit can help.

Brandit Global provides a web to print solution that allows you to create marketing materials quickly, accurately and effectively. Templates allow brand consistency to peak, due to locked down elements such as logos and colours. As well as this, there’s an approval process so nothing goes out without being checked first.

It's platforms like this that could really assist marketers with their collateral for Tokyo 2020. If you’d like to see our platform in action, be sure to request a free demo via screen share by filling in the form at the bottom of this blog!


Olympic Marketing Controversy: #Rio2016

Man on a bike.

Like every worldwide event, there was controversy at the Rio Olympics. A game perhaps somewhat overshadowed by doping controversies, Rio never had it easy. However, there were also other areas of contention  in the world of marketing - the hashtag.

On the 22nd of July, The Guardian reported that the US Olympic committee were bullying unofficial sponsors who were using certain hashtags that they deemed to belong to them and their marketing campaigns.

This is a complex subject - especially considering hashtags are a tool to join communities together in discussion. .The US committee, however, discerned this as theft of their intellectual property.

The Guardian also reported that it has been possible to trademark hashtags in the USA since 2013, yet the debate about whether this is an infringement of intellectual property is raging.

Mark Terry, Property Lawyer, claimed in an interview with the newspaper that: “Trademark infringement occurs when another party uses a trademark and confuses the public as to the source of a product or service that’s being used in commerce. That’s not what happens when you use a hashtag. I’m not selling a product or service, I’m just making statements on an open forum. How else do you indicate you are talking about the Rio 2016 Olympics without saying #Rio2016?”

It’s a grey area of digital marketing, and one that is still being refined and fine tuned in terms of what is, and isn’t illegal. Yet what we can really take from this is the fact that businesses will go to great lengths to protect their Olympic marketing efforts, even when copyright rules are questionable.


The Brands Who Achieved Marketing Success at Rio

There were brands around the world that went into Rio with their marketing cards carefully aligned, and the success they’ve raised off of the back of these campaigns is evident now that the games have drawn to a close.

Below you’ll find some of the finest from across the UK - and there’s much  to be learnt in terms of refining your own event marketing tactics.


Eastlands Trust - #MCR2Rio campaign

#MCR2Rio National Cycling Centre post.

One of the best local campaigns from our area goes to Eastlands Trust. The trust oversee a range of sports centres throughout Manchester, including the National Cycling Centre where most of Team GB’s gold-winning cyclists spend their time training.

Underneath the hashtag #MCR2Rio, Eastlands launched a digital campaign alongside marketing agency pixel8 that included a social media competition, Fan Zones at the sports centres, and the chance to come together and watch Team GB achieve success at their local sporting facilities.

The interaction with the hashtag on social media proved to be very successful. The campaign itself reached more than 7.3 million people, helping to put Manchester on the map when it came to this year’s Olympics promotion. This was also cleverly supported by the #MCR2Rio competition. Visitors to the sports centres were encouraged to dress up in the provided carnival fancy dress for the chance to win an Olympic sports taster session when they posted their pictures on social media - a great example of User Generated content marketing and a clever tool to raise awareness and increase footfall across the centres.

Online registrations at the National Cycling Centre jumped up 225% during the games and campaign, and the Marketing Manager praised the agency, Pixel8 Ltd, for providing a ‘gold-medal performance.’ Good job, guys!


Team GB & Panasonic UK - #SuperFans

Another big UK brand that has made a huge impression during Rio is Panasonic. They quickly teamed up with Team GB for the games, and together they launched the #SuperFans campaign.

The idea behind this digital marketing effort was to get people involved with the hashtag to post their pictures and show how crazy a fan of Team GB they really are.

Team GB social post.


A look back on the Twitter account of Panasonic demonstrates how dedicated they were to the games. They often tweeted about Team GB athletes and their winnings, and were clearly trying to drum up excitement around the games for their followers.

The campaign was a delight to see, and it’s a great piece of experiential marketing that marketing managers can learn from. People love the chance to get involved, and Panasonic identified and capitalised on this  for their joint Team GB campaign.

 Team GB Social Media Post


The National Lottery & ITV (STV and UTV) I Am Team GB

Although this event has been ticking on throughout the Olympics, #IAmTeamGB is a Rio campaign with a difference.

Created by The National Lottery and ITV, the #IAmTeamGB  campaign was designed to encourage the nation to take part in the “biggest sports day, EVER”.

It was clear before the games that people were excited, and also that Team GB themselves and the British athletes were pushing others to sign up. To take part, all consumers had to do was visit the website and sign up - it was that simple!

Upon signing up, users were encouraged to send out a tweet, and from there they were sent personalised messages from The National Lottery account featuring various Team GB athletes. This personalised technology is a great way of involving people in marketing campaigns - consumers like nothing more than seeing their own names on something. You only need to think back to the Coca Cola Share a Coke campaign that generate 998 million impression on Twitter to see how effective this can be.

IAmTeamGB Post on social media.


Hundreds of events were running throughout the UK, and the event was in partnership with the British Olympic Association. We really love the way it helped drum up excitement and opportunities for potential future members of Team GB!

Team GB social Post

It’s a fantastic and unique idea that brought all the country together once more. Take a look at some of the pictures from the event on social below.

Social Media Post Social Media Post


Brandit and Marketing

If you’re looking for a quick way to produce marketing materials in-house for your next big campaign, you’re in luck. Brandit is a web 2 print platform designed to make your life easier and also to guarantee brand consistency.

You don’t need any design experience at all to use it, and it’s fast, efficient and accurate.


Take a look at our video demo, or request on via screen share below. We’re certain Brandit will make any future marketing campaigns you launch more streamlined and easier than ever before!

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