The 2016 Summer Olympics are days away from kicking off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. No Olympic Games is without its share of controversy, but the particular focus on Brazil’s ability to remain economically stable in light of the tremendous costs of running the Games has made it a portentous year for critics. Nonetheless, the coming weeks will be fruitful for many sponsors, businesses large and small. The benefits of an Olympic year can reach past the host city. Small businesses everywhere can leverage the huge trend power of the Games to create gold-medal performances in their own communities.
Traditionally, the kinds of sponsorships that are associated with an Olympic Games are on the biggest scale imaginable: mega-corporations like McDonalds, for example, take up the lion’s share of direct association with the Olympic brand. In Rio, these monolithic sponsors have not lost their places at the table: however, small businesses have more tools than ever that allow them to share the spotlight. Getting into the Olympic spirit can provide a boost to your marketing – both in brick and mortar form and on digital channels. The time is now to come up with creative promotions that engage the colour, vibrancy and character of the host nation, the efforts of Canadian athletes, and the triumphal themes associated with sports. Providing opportunities to view key events will help draw patrons through your door, and promotions can even be designed to trigger with the successes of Canadian athletes.
While the Olympics are a world-class opportunity to show your small business’ creative side when it comes to promotion, it’s worth noting that the International Olympic Committee are notorious sticklers when it comes to the use of their trademarked material. Logos, key phrases (like the motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or even the words “Olympics”, “Olympian” etc.) are blacked out among businesses with any commercial association to a particular Olympic athlete – a manufacturer of equipment used at the Olympic level, for example. A small business in Minnesota is suing over the US Olympic Committee’s ban on tweeting about the Olympic games. The Committee announced last month that non-sponsors are banned from even using hashtags like #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA for commercial purposes. Stay on the safe side when it comes to your marketing, and get into the spirit of evoking the thrill of sport without making explicit use of existing intellectual property.