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sports in the spotlight

Twitter, Foursquare to Police Ambush Marketing for London 2012 Olympics

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 15, 2012 10:06 AM

The London 2012 Summer Olympics organizers are getting ready to do battle against ambush marketers, the stealth marketing and advertising that undermines official sponsors' efforts. It's an issue that's top of mind for LOCOG — the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games — and social networks are ready to help.

“Twitter has agreed to prevent brands from using the social network for Olympic 'ambush marketing' attempts,” according to eConsultancy. LOCOG has signed £670m ($1 billion) in sponsorship deals so it doesn’t want any of those partners getting upset about nonsponsors stealing their thunder during the Games.

LOCOG has a similar deal with Foursquare to prohibit non-sponsors to make check-ins around the locations of the Games. Not only that, the 70,000 volunteers who will be working at the Games will be told that they aren’t allowed to post “behind-the-scenes updates and photos to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks,” the site reports.

Of course, you can’t stop consumers from perceiving and thinking whatever they please. Case in point: it was recently found by digital agency Jam that Nike was the brand most associated with the Games even though Nike hasn’t shelled out one penny to be aligned officially with the Olympics. That, of course, didn’t sit well with Adidas, which has shelled out £100m ($157 million) to actually be an official Olympic partner.

While Nike’s 2012 campaign uses the Twitter hashtag #makeitcount (and a few Olympic athletes to boot), it is not seen as blatantly attaching itself to the Games. Twitter has agreed to not allow folks that aren’t sponsors “to buy promoted Twitter ads using games-related tags such as #London2012,” econsultancy reports.

It’s hard to believe that everyone will follow the rules. And even if they do, it doesn’t mean consumers will be thinking of any of the Olympic sponsors any differently at summer’s end than they do now.

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