As the Olympics wind down this week, the biggest and most buzzed-about issue hasn’t been the gold medals and world records, it’s been the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and its Rule 40. For context, Rule 40 lasts from July 18 to August 15 and prohibits all Olympians from promoting any sponsors that aren’t official Olympic sponsors.
This means athletes can’t mention their own sponsors in more than a two-week period, when they’re actually competing in the Games, in any type of social media outlet. That is, unless their sponsors are official Olympic sponsors, which has been reported is only two percent of U.S. athletes.
In response, the Olympians took to Twitter, starting a protest with the hashtag #wedemandchange. At a time when the entire world is watching, the biggest opportunity for these athletes to make money would be to promote their sponsors to their fans on social media but they can’t.
This completely goes against all marketing intuition. When you have the biggest stage, make the biggest push. But the IOC is prohibiting that. Prohibiting free speech, prohibiting Olympians from making money, doing their jobs.
To have such opportunity to market yourself and your sponsors but not be able to is frustrating. What do you think?