21 Jan

Ambush Marketing Attacked In Vancouver

Posted in News, Promotional Products on 21.01.10 by John Meloche

Earlier this week, we advised business owners in Vancouver, British Columbia to take advantage of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games by handing out as many promotional items as necessary to secure new business. Of course, both Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. will be abuzz for two full weeks in February as the Olympics take centre stage.

We also advised business owners in Vancouver to be careful of their marketing practices, by the way, as organizers of the Games are taking advertisements from non-sponsors of the Olympics very seriously. Now while this clearly does not truly affect a private business owner handing out his snazzy promotional gifts, it will however, impact businesses who are purporting to be sponsors of the Winter Games.

As Tamsyn Burgmann writes on The Toronto Star's website today, ?the Olympic organizing committee, known as VANOC, has steadily pursued those they charge are capitalizing off the largest sporting event in the country by misleading consumers into believing they're affiliated.?

Referring to the practice of businesses claiming Olympic-affiliation as ?ambush marketing?, Burgmann notes that VANOC is seeking damage control against those companies who threaten to ?undermine the value of Games sponsorship.?

Interestingly, last week Scotiabank came under fire as they were accused of launching a marketing campaign involving the Games even though they are not official Olympic sponsors. Evidently, VANOC is taking the concept of ambush marketing very seriously in order to protect the 64 domestic sponsors who have contributed over $756 million to the Olympic budget.

Companies targeted by VANOC, however, are apparently not backing down. Marketing professor at Simon Fraser University marketing professor, Lindsay Meredith agrees that VANOC has a right to protest against businesses who haven't paid to advertise during the Olympics, but notes that the committee's aggressive approach to opposing such companies is not helping their case.

Notes Burgmann, such aggression only worked on smaller businesses like Vancouver's 15-year-old Olympic Pizza which was forced to changed its name and five-ring logo on their signage prior to this year's Olympic Games. Tackling larger corporations, however ?who all argue they're merely tapping an Olympic-related surge in national pride ? means juggling the hassles of both legal costs and the potential for bad PR.?

Clearly, small businesses are at the greatest risk of feeling the wrath of VANOC. But business owners should be reminded that it doesn't take a huge campaign to adequately advertise their businesses. Many fans will want to leave the Winter Games with keepsakes to remind them of their experiences there. Why can't one of your company's promo gifts be part of the collection? Don't worry, we won't tell VANOC.

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