The Olympic Brand Games

Perhaps I am showing a bit of my age here, but I remember when the Olympics used to be about sport, competition, ‘the thrill of victory’…about people who may have had political, religious or philosophical differences coming together to celebrate excellence.

Then the Olympics became a brand.
And I am all for brands, and good branding management.

Then the Olympics used social media.
And I am all for people and organizations using social media.

Then the Olympics decided that they could control social media.

Now, would it be proper brand management to have social media guidelines?
Of course.

But the Olympic guidelines on social media and blogging have (in my humble opinion) gone too far.  A few snippets:

  • Athletes and journalists must post/tweet/blog/etc in the first person.
  • Athletes and journalists may not upload video
  • Athletes and journalists must receive permission from everyone in a photo prior to posting
  • A few highlights include that any domain name or URL with the word “olympics” must be approved by the IOC ahead of time.

In general, I am a sports fan, and sometimes when the Olympics roll around, I find myself caring more about some less popular sports than I normally would.  I don’t think that I am alone in this…ask yourself, when was the list time that you watched diving on TV?  <The answer is 2008, and the time before that was 2004>.

Social media is a great opportunity for some of the lesser known sports to emerge, and become a part of the publics conscienseness.  Swimming has Michael Phelps, gymnastics has Nastia Lukin, in the winter there are Apollo Ono and Shaun White.  However, most of the Olympics sports don’t have a highly visible, easily identifiable “face”.

With the vast proliferation of social media, London 2012 would have been the perfect opportunity for some of those other sports to use social media to grab some of the spotlight.

The IOC may be protecting their brand, but it is going to come at the expense of the individual sports and athletes.

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