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Trying to avoid Olympic ambush marketing
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Official Olympic sponsors have uncorked their creative juices for advertising during the Olympic Games this summer. An expected 4 billion people are expected to watch the Olympics in London starting this month and advertising is already looking good.

Commercial partnerships account for about 40 percent of Olympic revenue, according to Olympic.org. The Olympic Partners (TOP) consist of 11 Worldwide Olympic Partners (WOP) this year, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, Proctor and Gamble and several others. TOPs are provided a “unique marketing platform” and sponsor one consecutive winter and spring game on a four-year cycle called a quadrennuim. In addition to the funding by the WOP, the Olympics has a three-tiered Domestic Sponsorship Programme in which partners will have “exclusive marketing rights” within the host country.

These exclusive rights include a “blackout,” from July 18 to Aug. 1, during which Olympic athletes cannot be featured in ads from companies who did not pay to become official Olympic sponsors. This includes companies that sponsor individual athletes.

“The IOC and its partners in the Olympic Movement take the threat of ambush marketing very seriously. We want to protect the integrity of the Olympic rings, the Olympic values and the future viability of the Olympic Games. Corporate sponsorship provides essential support for competing athletes and contributes to the overall success of the Games. Put simply, without the support of our official commercial partners, the Games would not able to happen,” International Olympic Committee Marketing Commission Chairman Gerhard Heiberg said.

Olympic sponsorship creates a greater sense of pride and appreciation for all of the athletes and can leave a lasting impression on viewers. With more broadcast mediums than ever before, it should be a no-brainer for a company to support the Olympics, if financially able. It costs about $100 million for WOPs to sponsor an Olympic cycle, according to Forbes. On the surface it seems unfair that companies who sponsor the individual athletes cannot feature that athlete -- many athletes are sponsored by more than one company and other sports competitions allow for multiple endorsements -- but this is the Olympics. Olympic sponsors create great ads that encourage and congratulate all of the athletes for their Olympic accomplishments. Olympic sponsors do a great job of including the best athletes of all nationalities in their ads, showing commonalties among cultural differences. It seems fair to reprimand athletes who participate in ambush marketing -- it encourages more companies to support the institution of the Olympics and fair sportsmanship (minus the substance abuse), not just the individual.

The celebration of athleticism across the world should be supported fairly not only in that instance, but all across the board.