Marketing Advice for the 2016 Rio Olympics


Every Olympiad is a huge occasion. For months leading up to the Games, the spotlight on athletes, sports and everything else linked to the occasion grows brighter and brighter until the opening ceremony and the lighting of the Olympic flame ensure the world’s attention is firmly on the host city for a whole fortnight.

From a marketing perspective, the Olympic Games are an amazing bandwagon to jump onto; as one of the world’s true global events, every country on the planet will tune in to see how their compatriots do on the biggest sporting stage of all – giving your brand a wonderful opportunity to shine.

Of course, there are rules in place to protect the official Olympic sponsors, but that doesn’t mean your brand can’t take in some of the magic of the Games – and spread it to an audience riding the wave of Olympic-mania.

At Champions Olympic Speakers, we have compiled a list of ways for your brand to make the most of the world’s biggest sports festival while staying within the guidelines.

What You CANNOT Do

You absolutely must be aware of the things you can’t do when marketing your goods or services with an Olympic theme, because penalties include cease and desist, fines, or even court. To ensure you are safe rather than sorry, here are the key aspects that you must steer clear of:

•    The Olympic Symbol
•    The Paralympic Symbol
•    The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Emblems
•    The Rio 2016 mascots
•    The words ‘Rio 2016’
•    The words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’, ‘Olympian’ and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg ‘Olympix’
•    The words ‘Paralympic’, ‘Paralympiad’, ‘Paralympian’ and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg ‘Paralympix’
•    The words ‘games’, ‘two thousand and sixteen’, ‘2016’ and ‘twenty sixteen’ which may not be used in combination with each other or with ‘gold’, ‘silver’, ‘bronze’, ‘Rio’, ‘medals’, ‘sponsor’ or ‘summer’.
•    The Olympic Motto: ‘Citius Altius Fortius’ / ‘Faster Higher Stronger’
•    The Paralympic Motto: ‘Spirit in Motion’
•    The Team GB logo
•    The ParalympicsGB logo
•    The British Olympic Association logo
•    The British Paralympic Association logo
• and various derivatives
•    The Rio 2016 sports pictograms

What you CAN do

Use phrases which include a verb and a time such as “celebrate this summer”, “enjoy the events this summer”, “be part of sporting history this month”, “enjoy yourselves in style at the events tonight” and other derivatives.

Employ phrases and puns with a vague sporting theme, such as “get a head start on your day”, “be a good sport”, “don’t get stuck at the first hurdle”, “avoid belly flops”, “race through your list”, “be quick off the starting blocks”, “don’t get stuck on the back foot”, “hit the target”, “lap up the atmosphere”, “everyone’s a winner” and so on.

Employ good-natured patriotism and celebrate Britishness. Use phrases such as “Flying the Union Jack” and “Go Britain”; if any element of your product is produced, assembled or otherwise “Made in Britain”, emphasise this in your marketing.

Launch or flag up a product with a patriotic feel to it, or consider renaming one of your offerings for the duration of the Olympics. If you make food products, see if you can top them with a Union Jack, or shape them into an oar, a tennis racquet, a bike or any other tool or implement which you are likely to see at the Olympics.

Focus on other nations too, particularly if they have any links to your company or are represented in your community. For example, if your business sells Italian food and is based in an area with a sizeable Italian community, base your marketing around sports that Italy does well in, such as fencing, cycling, and water polo.

Be emotional. Over the years, the Olympics have provided thousands of seminal moments laden with tears, from unexpected triumphs to displays of perseverance and human spirit over adversity. Derek Redmond’s refusal to give up on the 400m semi-final race at the Barcelona Olympics despite his heart-breaking hamstring injury continues to be a tear-jerking moment over 20 years on; you can speak with us over including Derek in your marketing campaign, or as a keynote speaker at your event.

Use your social media strategies to enjoy the events. Use Facebook, your business blog or Twitter to share enjoyment of the Games with your customers. Use polls, ask fun questions, and get your followers to post pictures of themselves doing sport, or jumping hurdles wearing something British – anything fun and engaging.

To see how you can make use of our Olympic Speakers for your marketing campaigns ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio, just contact Champions Olympic Speakers by filling out our online form or by calling us on +44 1509 85 29 27.