Hot off the Winter Olympics Opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia, rumours came flooding out from a Swiss website that Swiss Athletes had been told to cover up any brands that weren’t official sponsors.
No “Branding Police” at Sochi:
The report, that came from a Swiss website called Bluewin – which has now taken down the story – said that Swiss Athletes had been given beer tankards, toiletries and a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. However, these gifts came with a note saying that if any Athletes were to use their own phones, they had to cover the brand to avoid giving that brand unpaid publicity. It’s believed the note mentioned Apple iPhones in particular.
Both Samsung, a Winter Olympic sponsor, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have both insisted that there is no “Branding Police” at Sochi, and no such command has come from either of them. Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s, the “Winter Olympics official phone”, have been given to each Athlete by Samsung to “Enjoy, capture, and share” their time during the Winter Olympics.
When asked about these rumours by the Guardian, Samsung pretty much washed their hands of the situation, saying that branding wasn’t up to them, as it was up to the IOC. When the IOC was asked by the same paper, they replied:
it is not true. Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony. The normal rules apply just as per previous games. The Samsung Note 3 that were distributed are a gift to the athletes, so they can capture and share their experiences at the games, and the phones also contain important competition and logistical information for competing athletes.
It’s no secret that Samsung and Apple are bitter rivals, often in court for one reason or another. Sadly, the “Branding Police” is not new to Olympics (or other sporting events). At London 2012, “Branding Police” made sure their sponsors’ brands were well protected and even went so far to make sure that people would not set up “guerilla advertising”. I even remember that if you were wearing clothing which had large symbols of non sponsor brands, you were asked to cover them up or take them off and keep them in a plastic bag.
Those normal rules mentioned above, state that any video or audio that they collect of events, competitions or anything that occurs on official Olympic venues must not be “uploaded and/or shared to a posting, blog or tweet on any social media platform or website”, but presumably photos are ok. In fact, a new trend has come out of Sochi and has exploded on Social Media sites like Twitter and Instagram called the “SochiSelfie“. Using the Hashtag, the public, media personalities and Athletes have been taking pictures of themselves in and around Sochi and Olympic events.
So there may be no “Branding Police” at Sochi, but there are plenty of Sochi Selfies.