July 25, 2012 By blogging

Guerilla Marketing at the Olympics

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One of my favorite guerilla marketing stunts happened at Austin City Limits in 2008. With imported lager Heineken as the festival’s alcohol sponsor, local favorite and domestic beer Shiner Bock was unable to sell their product. The innovative McGarrah Jessee firm decided to hand out thousands of koozies with their logo, transforming the brews without breaking violating the terms of sponsorship.

The Olympic opening ceremonies will air in less than two days and one of the hotly debated topics in our industry are the terms of sponsorships. The only fried potato products – excluding the ubiquitous British national dish of fish and chips – allowed to be sold at the 800 food retailers at the 40 Olympic venues across the nation are from the golden arches themselves: mega-sponsor McDonald’s has a firm stronghold on all chips or French fries served at the event. If you’re looking for a cold Carlsberg or Mullholland, you will have to look elsewhere during the two week Olympic series, as Heineken (they’re everywhere!) is the only beer allowed to be sold in the Olympic perimeter.

However, the question comes into play if any of these competing brands will be attempting a Shiner-esque guerilla marketing tactic for the games. Unfortunately, their ideas have already been curtailed as the chairman of the International Olympic Committee and Olympics minister have agreed that large groups coming in together wearing clearly visible branding and marketing are forbidden. While individual shirts would not be banned (for example, the lone Pepsi shirt above would not trigger ejection due to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship) the committee has presumably learned from examples such as the 2010 World cup when 40 women attempted to promote Bavaria beer clad in orange shirts.

Is it fair to ban these creative tactics or is a pre-emptive ban necessary to protect sponsors who have paid good money to be placed at the front lines of spectator events? Make sure to share your opinions below, on our Facebook or Twitter.