Apparently the Olympics suffer from ‘Ambush Marketing’, meaning that if they don’t stop other people doing adverts that are a bit like they have something to do with the event then the official sponsorships aren’t worth as much dosh. It’s all about scarcity, just like how TV rights are only worth so much if you can stop other people showing the games (something that the sports world is also struggling with), or how news coverage (or at least the adverts that sit alongside it) only makes money of there are a limited number of people doing it.

The Olympic movement (and sport in general) is not know for it’s forward thinking policy on this sort of thing, we’ve seen people with cameras not being allowed in,  Dutch football fans’ trousers being confiscated, and fixture list copyrights being policed with the ferocity of, well, only the music industry are equally as dickheaded. Not only that, but they’ve been accused of bizarre censorship around the current games:

Anti-Olympic mural censored in Vancouver Boing Boing

(Boing Boing)

So when the Wall Street Journal decided to stir up a bit of Twitter trouble, it was easy to find brands supposedly breaking the Olympic marketing rules (in which “nonsponsors are barred from referring to the Games and their athletes in name, likeness or imagery that evokes the Games in any media without a waiver from the committee” — this would now one would assume cover the “official hashtag”):

Twitter / Verizon Newsroom: GGuess what? Team USA is rockin' out the #Olympic medal count in 1st place with (drumroll, please) 18!

Verizon and Red Bull were the two accused here, by joining in with the conversations around events rather than sticking to broadcasting marketing tweets (“barketing”? if it’s not been called that before, I’m coining it) they’d broken rules drawn up in another information age.

You can’t control the use of words when you can no longer control the scarcity of information. Something even the World’s oldest organisations are going to have to learn.

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