Leveraging the Olympics

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January 29, 2014 by Tamara Piety

Just saw this great bit in Advertising Age. It is an ad being run by Guinness about one twin giving up her spot in the Olympics for the other who was too ill on the day of the qualifying races (unclear why her sister is next in line or we should assume she would qualify but that is apparently what happened). The ad is only running for one day because “the U.S. Olympic Committee rules … generally prohibit marketers who are not official sponsors from featuring Olympic competitors…” Apparently the US Olympic Committee sells right to feature competitors and the rights are exclusive. Although the committee can grant exceptions and apparently does fairly liberally it doesn’t when the ad, such as the one from Guinness, is from a company which competes with an official sponsor.  In this case that is Bud.

The Advertising Age article quotes a spokesman from Diageo, parent company of Guinness, that “‘We are not doing this as a guerilla marketing tactic to ride the wave of the Olympics,'” said Diageo spokesman Jim Sias. “‘This is just a really powerful, inspirational story that we think really aligns with the DNA of what the Guinness brand is,'” he added. “‘We really wanted to celebrate it and make this story more known and recognize it.'” 

Uh huh.

Well then as one commenter observed, why not take off all the branding, logo and the like?  Indeed. then it wouldn’t be advertising.

The commercialization of the Olympics is a fait accompli of long standing. But it is interesting how tightly controlled that commercialization is. It is definitely not open to everyone.  It is difficult to feel bad for Diageo. The spot is great and it is a compelling story although its connection to Guinness (other than maybe to give people warm fuzzies when they think of Guinness) is more tenuous.

But the whole thing leaves sort of a bad taste in your mouth.


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