The winter games are upon us once again, and the world is watching. Many businesses will want to join in on the buzz and excitement around the festivities to engage with their customers, however, doing so may come with some legal pitfalls.
We’re here to help you ‘skate’ through social posting around the games*, so your content is a winner and not a ‘luger’ (puns fully intended).
First of all, know that you’re not the only ones that have to follow guidelines around posting digital or social content around the winter games. Athletes, coaches, officials, personnel and the media all must follow their own special regulations around what they publish regarding the games as well.
Below we’ve published a brief breakdown of general rules businesses should follow when publicizing content around this international sporting competition. However, you should absolutely brush up on the IOC, USOC and Host Committee’s guidelines to fully ensure proper compliance.
- Only official sponsor companies are truly allowed to create promotional content around the games. If you aren’t Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, or a few other large international corporations, you should refrain from hitting “post”.
- Do not write about the games with specificity (notice we’re not even using the “O******s” word?). Refer to them generally (“winter games,” “athletes,” etc.) and avoid trademarked words or phrases relating to the games. Find the list below.
- Do not congratulate games athletes on their performance or winning medals, or even cheer them on specifically. Sounds crazy right? However games committees and organizations aggressively protect their intellectual properties as they state it de-incentivises actual sponsors from helping support the teams and games from happening.
- Social and digital media blackout rules are in effect from February 1, 2018 to February 28, 2018. However, we suggest staying away from all of these rules as long as possible--even after the blackout dates--to avoid any legal injury.
- Do not create any social media handles or domain names that include trademarked terms owned by the IOC.
- Do not post any standings or results from the games.
- Do not use any official hashtags or variations of the trademarked words below in company publications.
- Don’t feature any competing athlete’s photos, videos, quotes or endorsements as brand influencers as it may jeopardize their participation in the games and your company in legal action.
- Do any of the things we told you not to do and you can face legal action from the International Olympic Committee, Host Committee or United States Olympic Committee. (Some businesses have really, truly received cease and desist letters.)
The USOC, Host Committee or IOC owns many federal trademarks including, but not limited to those listed below. Do not use any of this wording in any online publishing for your business:
- OLYMPIC, OLYMPIAD, OLYMPIAN and FUTURE OLYMPIAN
- GO FOR THE GOLD and GATEWAY TO GOLD
- LET THE GAMES BEGIN
- PARALYMPIC, PARALYMPIAD and PARALYMPIAN
- PAN-AMERICAN, PAN AM GAMES
- PYEONGCHANG 2018, PYEONGCHANG2018, 2018PYEONGCHANG, TOKYO 2020, BEIJING 2022, PARIS 2024, LOS ANGELES 2028, LA 2028, LA28
- ROAD TO RIO, ROAD TO PYEONGCHANG and ROAD TO TOKYO
- SPIRIT IN MOTION; PASSION. CONNECTED.; TO THE WORLD BE THE BEST
- TEAM USA; TEAM KOREA
- Do not share any photos or videos taken from the games. Only accredited persons are allowed to share on personal accounts and still may face legal retribution if they don’t adhere to IOC guidelines.
- Do not use the official visual brand elements (logos, icons, etc.) from the games or official organizations in any posting without prior approval from the host committee’s permission, and is reserved for official sponsors.
- If you are a non-profit posting about the games for educational, editorial and non-promotional or non-commercial purposes, USOC guidelines state you actually may use these types of media, however we still urge you to tread cautiously.
- Opt to use illustrations, animation, or non-specific footage of sporting events or locations to create media around the games.
We hope these guidelines were helpful for your business to avoid any legal ramifications. We want you to be able to bob-SLAY your content around the games, and not ski-JUMP...into litigation. (okay, we’re fully done with the sports puns for now.)
*These are suggested general guidelines to practice when approaching digital media around the winter games. By reading or acting upon these suggested guidelines, you agree Easy Media is not responsible, nor is it liable for any legal repercussions you may experience if suggestions are utilized in social or digital media production of any kind relating to this topic. Please use the official IOC document for Olympic social and digital media guidelines found here and here.