Watch Your Words

On Sunday many in the US watched the biggest football game of the year, one that decided who was the ultimate winner in this season, and today the winter sporting event that the whole world participates in begins in PyeongChang. Both of these events are big opportunities for brands and for sales, approximately a quarter of people who watch the game watch for the commercials, and you can’t miss the advertising everywhere else from both the teams and the brands regarding the game. But in response to an article I read recently I wanted to talk about something I don’t talk about a lot, and something that many people don’t want to think about: the legal side of things.

You may or may not know that there are rules in place as far as what brands who aren’t official sponsors can and can’t say about these events, based on the official rules or trademarks that the organizations have on names and graphics. Average people can say whatever they want, but anytime a business starts talking about something related to the event they have to be very careful with what they say (you’ll notice that I didn’t include the specific names of the 2 events in question in the beginning of this post). While the official committees don’t hunt down every single offender, the consequences of using their names and graphics certainly are enough to make you think twice before you do any types of event promotions or talk about them.

I can understand the position of the sponsors who don’t want others getting the publicity they’re paying for, for free. I can also understand the events/organizations not wanting what they’ve worked really hard to create, and spent a lot of money on, being taken advantage of. But I also understand how frustrating it is for businesses who can’t afford sponsorship or don’t get approved for sponsorship, or may not even be aware that they’re not allowed to say/do certain things (it would certainly make things a whole lot easier for everyone if you could just come out and say stuff).

So what’s the lesson here? First, if you hear big companies not calling things by their given name, there’s probably a good reason for it. Second, you wouldn’t like it if someone stole your best material or tried to steal your thunder without first getting your approval to use or reference it. Third, if you’re going to restrict what others can say or do, make sure you give them a list of do’s and don’t’s and you can even be helpful and let them know say or do instead of what the general public can do/say. Fourth, maybe this is the reminder you need to take a look at the legal side of your business and make sure everything is protected the way it should be. Finally, after you’ve taken a moment to complain about it, embrace the opportunity to get creative in your promotions and communications regarding the fun competition happening in PyeongChang.

How will you creatively celebrate all things winter sports in your business?

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