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Creating an Olympic sized social media strategy without fear of disqualification

02 August 2016

It’s hard to believe its been four years since we all became swept up with Olympic fever, as the games came back to the UK for the first time in more than 60 years. With Team GB finishing in 3rd with a total of 65 medals, 29 of which were gold, it was the UK’s best effort since London first hosted the Olympics way back in 1908.

After such success, as the torch and the Olympic spotlight makes its way to Rio, the excitement and patriotism will undoubtedly be on display to enormous degree this time around. Fingers crossed there will be a great deal to celebrate this time around, however as a business, unless you are an official partner or sponsor of the games, there are a number of strict rules and regulations from the British Olympic Association, which you will need to adhere to when celebrating on social media.

What are the rules?

There is quite an extensive list regarding what you can and cannot reference during the Olympic Games, however to make things that little bit easier, we compiled a brief guide to help keep you on the right track and ensure you’re not constantly trying to jump through hoops.

Whether it be on your company social media account, your company blog or a product display, businesses are prohibited from using any of the Olympic trademarks including the Olympic motto which is Citius, Atius, Fortius, the Olympic Rings. In fact, your brand can not have any reference to Rio 2016, during the duration of the games.

It isn’t just the Olympic Games which has its own motto, Team GB also has its own motto “Believe In Extraordinary” which can be seen on everything, from t-shirts to key rings. However, if you’re thinking about congratulating a winning athlete, well you can’t! Not only can you not use the motto as a hashtag, but beyond this, any reference to athletes’ participation in the Olympic Games which includes congratulations, Re-tweets of any Team GB tweets at any time, or re-tweets of athletes’ posts, which reference the games during the duration of the event, is prohibited.

It’s not just what you say during the games that you need to be careful about. Any use of Olympic Games venue imagery, whether it be photo or video is also off limits, as too is the use of imagery of any Olympic Games Intellectually Property, including medals or team kits.

How to champion UK success without breaking the law

Phew! That’s a lot to think about and remember if you’re responsible for your company’s social media output, but as we saw during London 2012, lots of us will be keen to celebrate the UK’s success and get involved in the discussion, so the option to simply refrain from any mention of the games is going to be difficult. So, are there ways you and your company can still play its part in promoting the Olympics without getting into hot water?

While reference to the Olympics is off the cards, the event is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and promote all things British. So if you’re a manufacturing company, why not utilise the event to promote your company, its story and products? Use your company social media profiles and blog to promote your sense of British pride, anchoring it to your own success.

There are always ways around how you can promote and connect your business with the Olympics without direct reference, with a bit of clever thinking you can create winning campaigns worthy of a medal. Marks and Spencer is a great example of how to successfully align a brand with the Olympics without compromising its position. During the 2012 games the company ran a campaign called "on your marks," featuring M&S heels on a starting block. This creative campaign ensured customers were covertly made to think of the Olympics without any reference to the games.

As a way to harness Olympic fever, utilise your social media accounts to engage with customers and clients, with questions, polls, competitions, or even an extra promotion or two. For example, if team GB take home a gold medal on a particular day or event why not provide a limited time discount or promotion to your customers as a way to celebrate the best of British.

Whether as an individual or a business, no one wants to miss out on the fun on the Olympic Games, despite the rules and regulations surrounding the event. There’s no need for businesses to be scared off or choose to ignore the event all event altogether. With a bit of careful planning and some strategic thinking outside the box, your business can easily create a winning strategy, worthy of a podium position.

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