Organizers for the London 2012 Olympics seem to understand the importance of social media in generating excitement for a brand, at least to an extent. This year, they’ve even dubbed the event the “first social media Olympics.” Check out their Olympic infographic on social media.
The recently released motto for the event, “Inspire a Generation,” however, may fly in the face of some practices and legislation swirling around the event. According to Mashable’s Sam Laird, “Business owners will have restrictions…They won’t be able to lure customers by advertising with official Olympics nomenclature such as ‘2012 Games.’ Regulators will scour Olympic venues to potentially obfuscate non-sponsor logos on objects as trivial as toilets. The imminent crackdown is largely the result of a pair of stringent brand-protecting acts passed in the United Kingdom in preparation for the games.” Athletes could be barred from sharing photos containing unofficial branding, and fans could be barred from Facebook and YouTube sharing from the event. Check out the details in this Guardian report. The pieces of legislation are 2006′s London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act and 1995′s Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act.”
While promotion of the event through social media is growing, so are the concerns that over protection of event and sponsor branding may go to an extreme. With thousands of attendees accustomed to sharing every minute of their day, this could be a huge problem. One blogger predicted the event would be “the most petty-minded and joyless Olympics so far.” While that may be a bit extreme, it does bare looking at carefully. Do you lock down all branding and risk a negative experience for attendees and a possible backlash in social media, or do you ride the wave and find ways to own message sharing and protect your brand and revenue stream at the same time. Both positions carry a good deal of risk; one propels you into the future.