Ambush Marketing: The Names That Cannot Be Spoken… (Part 2)

quatchi.jpgWith a few weeks to go before the Winter Olympics, VANOC’s anxiety about official marks (what you might call “brand-wringing”) continues.  The list of protected terms was expanded in December (curiously, this order managed to pass before Parliament was shut down) to include the mascots like Quatchi, at right, and various other symbols of the events. 

Companies of all stripes – from small retailers of cheap knock-off T-shirts, to independent app-developers, to major financial institutions – are scrutinized by VANOC to see if their efforts run afoul of the rules.  It has become clear that the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act has cut both ways.  VANOC has a powerful enforcement tool to use against infringers and pretenders.  On the other hand, the legislation is like a handbook for companies who are not official sponsors to determine exactly where the line is. For example, Scotiabank’s recent “Show Your Colours” campaign, and the new “International Collection” by Roots, both make use of carefully crafted, non-infringing design elements that evoke the excitement and energy of the Games, while scrupulously avoiding any offense under the Act. 

VANOC’s anxiety is understandable – sponsors have paid handsomely and expect protection.  But you can’t provide a handbook, then complain when people read it and follow it. 

Related reading: Ambush Marketing: The Names That Cannot Be Spoken… (Part 1)

Calgary – 09:00 MST

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