The International Olympic Committee has released it’s Social Media Guidelines for participants and other accredited persons at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The four-page document is the IOC’s attempt to recapture the ground it never had when Twitter became the must-have channel for those competing at the winter Vancouver 2010 games.
Remember the death of Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili and how the footage of the tragic accident ended up on YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites. Happening just before the opening ceremony and the online chatter accentuated the lack of control and understanding that the Olympic committee had over social media and which cast a shadow over the Vancouver Olympics.
In the guidelines the IOC ‘actively encourages and supports athletes and other accredited persons at the Olympic Games to … post, blog and tweet their experiences.’ it directs those competing to avoid using social networking sites ‘for commercial and/or advertising purposes.’ If athletes and other accredited persons do break these guidelines then they risk accreditation being withdrawn. More worrying for athletes is the threat of possible expulsion from the games.
So how will these guidelines affect the work of public relations agencies working with athletes and their sponsors? Will non-accredited sponsors see these guidelines as a red rag to a bull? How strong will ambush marketing play during the 2012 Olympics? Remember how Dutch beer company Bavaria got, as The Daily Telegraph describes, ‘36 women wearing skimpy orange dresses attend the Holland versus Denmark game‘ to promote Dutch Bavaria beer in breach of Fifa guidelines. Organisers of the stunt were then arrested.
What are your thoughts? How important will social networking play for brands that are sitting outside the tent and that will never be able to be a participant in the Olympic experience?